Lots has happened since my last post. After the Town Board passed a zoning amendment in August 2011 making it clear that gas drilling is not allowed in the Town of Dryden, Anschutz Exploration, Inc filed suit to overturn the amendment claiming that the town's land use authority is preempted by state law regulating the gas industry. In November 2011, we successfully defended the amendment in court and swept local elections.
The Town continued working to update zoning regulations to conform with the 2005 Comprehensive plan and in 2012 the Town Board passed a much clearer updated zoning ordinance - including the gas drilling prohibition. Anschutz declined to pursue an appeal of the Tompkins County Supreme Court decision. Norse Energy sold nearly all their assets in New York and bought at least one lease from Anschutz. Norse was allowed to file the appeal Anschutz had abandoned and filed for bankruptcy reorganization shortly thereafter.
In May 2013, the NYS Appellate Division upheld the lower court decision and Norse's attorney promptly filed for permission to appeal. Last week the NYS Court of Appeals agreed to hear the case and new set briefs will be filed by both sides by the end of this year. The Court of Appeals hearing could be scheduled as early as May 2014.
This goes on alongside the work the town board normally does. We've won two awards for the Varna Development Plan. We've gotten Varna traffic improvements on the regional Transportation Improvement Plan. We've developed a strong Road Protection Program. The Conservation Board has mapped and described areas which qualify for protection as Critical Environmental Areas. We formed the Agricultural Advisory Committee to strengthen policy decision input from the agricultural community. The Planning Board is reviewing the Comprehensive Plan to evaluate what updates may be necessary to conform with accepted sustainability goals. We launched a monthly newsletter to help residents know more about what the town offers. The Conservation Board, with input from the Recreation Commission and Agricultural Advisory Committee, is developing an Open Space Plan. We're continuing plans for the Varna Trail from Game Farm Road to Mount Pleasant.
Meantime, Democrats swept Village of Dryden elections with Mayor Zimmer and two new Trustees willing and able to take on the village's serious water supply issues and build a strong working relationship with the town.
Now we're launching another campaign to re-elect Supervisor Sumner and Councilperson Leifer and to elect a new candidate for Town Board, Greg Sloan and a new candidate for Highway Superintendent.