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Middlefield Dryden Decision

Middlefield Dryden Decision

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Published by glenncoin
NYS Court of Appeals decision in Middlefield/Dryden fracking cases
NYS Court of Appeals decision in Middlefield/Dryden fracking cases

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Published by: glenncoin on Jun 30, 2014
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09/08/2014

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================================================================= This opinion is uncorrected and subject to revision beforepublication in the New York Reports.-----------------------------------------------------------------No. 130 In the Matter of Mark S. Wallach, as Chapter 7 Trustee for Norse Energy Corp. USA, Appellant, v. Town of Dryden et al., Respondents.---------------------------------No. 131 Cooperstown Holstein Corporation, Appellant, v. Town of Middlefield, Respondent.Case No. 130: Thomas S. West, for appellant.Deborah Goldberg, for respondents. Town of Ulysses et al.; Office of the Manhattan BoroughPresident et al.; New York FarmBureau; Washington LegalFoundation; Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York,Inc.; American PetroleumInstitute et al.; Joint LandownersCoalition of New York, Inc.; Vicki Been et al.; Brewery OmmegangLtd. et al.; Dryden Resources Awareness Coalition; CommunityEnvironmental Defense Council, Inc.; Barbara Lifton; AmericanPlanning Association et al., amici curiae.Case No. 131:Scott R. Kurkoski, for appellant. John J. Henry, for respondent. Town of Ulysses et al.; New York FarmBureau;Independent Oil and Gas Association of New York, Inc.; AmericanPetroleumInstitute et al.; Brewery Ommegang, Ltd. et al.; JointLandowners Coalition of New York, Inc. et al.; American PlanningAssociation et al., amici curiae.
 
GRAFFEO, J.:We are asked in these two appeals whether towns may banoil and gas production activities, including hydrofracking,within municipal boundaries through the adoption of local zoninglaws. We conclude that they may because the supersession clause- 1 -
 
- 2 -Nos. 130 & 131in the statewide Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law (OGSML) doesnot preempt the home rule authority vested in municipalities toregulate land use. The orders of the Appellate Division shouldtherefore be affirmed.I.Matter of Wallach v Town of DrydenRespondent Town of Dryden is a rural community locatedin Tompkins County, New York. Land use in Dryden is governed bya comprehensive plan and zoning ordinance. The underlying goalof the comprehensive plan is to "[p]reserve the rural and smalltown character of the Town of Dryden, and the quality of life itsresidents enjoy, as the town continues to grow in the comingdecades." Despite the fact that oil and gas drilling has nothistorically been associated with Dryden, its location within theMarcellus Shale region has piqued the interest of the natural gasindustry. The Marcellus Shale formation covers a vast area acrosssections of a number of states, including New York, Pennsylvania,Ohio and West Virginia. Natural gas -- primarily methane -- isfound in shale deposits buried thousands of feet below thesurface and can be extracted through the combined use of horizontal drilling and hydrofracking. To access the naturalgas, a well is drilled vertically to a location just above thetarget depth, at which point the well becomes a horizontal tunnelin order to maximize the number of pathways through which the gas- 2 -

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