The Daily Star’s coverage of the Otego moratorium meeting was inadvertently skewed. Reporter Joe Mahoney’s repeated efforts to get an anti-moratorium perspective never connected. Left uncovered was a more-nuanced look at the Otego opinion survey and a totally ignored protest petition.
The survey was created to both inform the town board of community sentiment and provide data for the completion of the Comprehensive Plan. The survey returns (more than 1,400) showed residents of the village were against drilling, 205 to 79. Others outside of the residents of the village were more evenly divided, with 450 against drilling and 464 for drilling; 192 were undecided; 46 didn’t answer the question because they didn’t turn the page.
Since the Comprehensive Plan addresses growth in the land outside an incorporated village and a village is entitled to its own Comprehensive Plan, we suggest that the village take up its own moratorium. Ironically, most of the village can’t be drilled on anyway, given the set-back in the current SGEIS.
According to Town Law 265, if the owners of 20 percent of a town’s acreage protest a land-use ordinance, a super-majority vote is required for passage. A packet of 206 protest petitions on the moratorium was presented to the town board. These represent 335 parcels totaling 16,937 acres, roughly 59 percent of the town’s total acreage and 63 percent if non-voting entities such as churches, cemeteries, schools and public lands are included. More acreage is still coming in.
Stuart Anderson’s statement in reference to the town-wide survey, that “local residents … indicated that they overwhelmingly disapprove of allowing drilling in the town” just isn’t true. The majority of taxpaying owners of land outside the village want drilling.
The town would be prudent to wait until the SGEIS is issued and the courts, the governor, and the Legislature speaks.