RH continues work on hydrofracking

Proposed changes to zoning laws would exclude the process

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The Red Hook Town Board continues to nail down details to eliminate any possible town involvement in hydrofracking.

At its Aug. 14 meeting, the board received word from the state and county about whether hydrofracking by-products were used as de-icing agents on town roads.

Town Supervisor Sue Crane read the letters sent in response.

“New York State DOT neither uses nor has plans to use hydrofracking byproducts for snow and ice control,” wrote Mike Temple, a representative of the state Department of Transportation. “None of these materials are currently used or have been used in the past by NYS DOT in Dutchess County.”

“Dutchess County does not use any hydrofracking byproducts for road de-icing or any other purpose,” wrote Bob Balkind, acting Commissioner of Public Works in Dutchess County.

The board also received a report from the Zoning Review Committee (ZRC) on how hydrofracking fits into the current zoning structure.

The issue, according to the ZRC, is definitions. Town Attorney Christine Chale explained that the current zoning law allows certain extractive operations like soil or gravel mining by special permit, but “does not specifically mention petroleum or natural gas extraction.” Because of this, the “zoning ordinance does not appear to permit fracking,” she said.

The lack of clarity in the definitions led the ZRC to suggest updating the regulations, and Chale provided the board with drafts of some of these proposed changes for review.

The board members will review the drafts before the next meeting and will look to the Conservation Advisory Committee for input. In July, the CAC had asked the town to impose a moratorium on hydrofracking.

The controversial process of hydrofracking, or hydraulic fracturing, involves propagating fractures in a rock layer with high pressure fluids to gain access to natural gas or other substances for extraction.

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