Residents React to Moratorium

By Erika Mahoney

July 31, 2012 Updated Aug 1, 2012 at 10:43 AM EDT

Owego, NY (WBNG Binghamton) In a five-to-one vote Monday, the Village of Owego board says "yes" to a one-year moratorium on hydrofracking and related activities.

As news of the resolution spreads, some are very unhappy.

"Owego has just recently been through a very devastating flood and it seems like this board is going out of its way to promote anti-growth activities," said resident John Ceccherelli. "[Hydrofracking] brings the promise of a lot of jobs. Owego is perfectly cited to be 'natural gas central' in southern New York State. We have just a perfect infrastructure, with a railroad just north of us to carry bulk commodities."

But Mayor Kevin Millar said the board believes they need more time to make a final decision.

After public hearings on the idea, he said a lot of residents have serious concerns.

"The thing that came up primarily was trucking," said Millar. "You know, a lot of truck traffic related to gas drilling. Each well takes about 1,000 tractor-trailer loads of water."

Two sites in the village are already dedicated to hydrofracking activities, one of which helps make cement for wells in Pennsylvania. But because the sites were there before the moratorium, they are grandfathered in.

Some residents say those two sites are enough for the village, as they already cause excess traffic.

"The truck traffic alone would be enough to devastate a lot of the businesses here," said resident Wes Ernsberger, who spoke at Monday's public hearing. "There are a lot of shops that people come in, it's a draw."

Annette Schweiger works at an art gallery on Front St. She said having one more year to decide can't hurt.

"If the board feels, as representatives of the folks in Owego, that they need more time to study and figure out exactly the best thing for the village of Owego, then I think it's fine," said Schweiger. "We can wait a little bit longer there's no rush."

In fact, she says she appreciates the healthy debate going on in the village.