City Solicitor Mark Jacob provided members of city council with an update on the progress that is being made on an ordinance that would limit drilling in certain designated areas of the city. City Manger Dave Greene informed council members that Jacob and councilman Dan Hepner, both of whom are members of a four-person committee designated to conduct research and make suggestions regarding enacting a drilling ordinance in the city, had recently attended a meeting about drilling, and Jacob provided them with a brief overview of what took place at that event. Hepner was excused from Monday evening's council meeting.
Jacob explained that the meeting was held by the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors and the Office of the Governor.
"They presented information on various impacts that the oil and gas industry have on infrastructure, businesses, a bunch of other areas other than just the environment. While they didn't have a lot of answers unfortunately for some of those things unfortunately, they did show the impact that it's had on various other areas like Bradford County, Tioga County, and that area where it's been heavily hit," Jacob said.
In addition to discussing the impacts of the drilling industry, Jacob noted that he and Hepner also had the opportunity to ask several questions about the city's proposed ordinance.
"Based on the answers given to us by the presenters, it looks like we are on the right course at least for addressing some of those issues," Jacob said.
Still, Jacob cautioned that the city's proposed ordinance may be impacted in the future by state Senate Bill 1100, which was recently introduced. The legislation would implement a natural gas impact fee and provide for a model zoning ordinance.
"I don't know whether it will pass or not in its current form. That could be years from now if it does, but as I understand it, one of the provisions of it is there would be a model ordinance made by some state entity, and if municipalities did not pass such an ordinance then they would not also get a share of tax revenues or other funding from that from the state," Jacob said.
Jacob remarked that the bill is something that the city needs to keep an eye on moving forward.