Woodstock bans gas drilling

On Tuesday, Woodstock's town board voted to adopt zoning law changes banning natural gas drilling and other petroleum exploration activities within town borders. The move was applauded by residents at a public hearing held before the vote, the Daily Freeman reports.

At the hearing, which was scheduled to allow residents to weigh in on the proposed amendments to the zoning law, many commenters spoke in favor of the ban, according to The Freeman.

“No, we’re not going to be fracked, not here in Woodstock, not now at least,” resident Linda Leeds told The Freeman.

Under the amendments, the exploration, storage, treatment and disposal of natural gas and petroleum explorations is prohibited.

The law also states it is intended to protect residents "from the adverse public nuisance and/or land use impacts and effects that could result" from fracking.

Woodstock Town Supervisor Jermey Wilber told the Watershed Post that the town board used amendments previously adopted in other New York State towns as a model for the Woodstock law.

"I'm just glad that we didn't have anybody from Dryden or Middlefield sitting there, because we would have been arrested for plagiarism," Wilber said. "We basically modeled our law on theirs. It survived the first test in a court of law, so why not back a winner?"

In addition to the comments, the Town Board also approved a resolution that directs Wilber to send a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo stating the board's concerns over fracking in the region.

Tuesday's hearing and vote was limited to the topic of zoning changes, but Woodstock has also been mulling over a more radical approach to gas drilling: Criminalization.

The Woodstock Times wrote in June that a second hearing was originally scheduled for Tuesday, July 17 to discuss a proposal by Councilman Jay Wenk that to criminalize hydraulic fracturing. If approved by the Town Board, the measure would deem the controversial drilling process “a violation of citizen's civil rights, punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment."

Wilber said the proposal was not yet ready for a hearing on Tuesday, so the hearing was cancelled, but that the proposal would "come up at some future date."

Below: The text of Woodstock's new law, and the resolution adopted by the town board on Tuesday.

Woodstock's Local Law Filing

Woodstock Gas Law - Resolution