Appalachian Basin

Who Is Gerry Lake, Anyway? The Natural Gas Saga in Oxford Continues!

I promised I would continue the Oxford, New York (Chenango County) saga yesterday, so here we go. Last night the Village of Oxford Planning Board held a meeting in an attempt to get the public’s opinion on a natural gas moratorium. They are reviewing the implications of enacting one and will be making a recommendation to the board in the coming weeks or months. For this meeting, they didn’t prepare any formal presentations, just immediately opened it up to the public after some brief opening remarks.

In Case You Forgot

Just for clarification, I want to remind you again of this situation and the difference between the town and board. From my post yesterday on the Village of Oxford Board meeting earlier this week:

There is a Village of Oxford and a Town of Oxford. The town board met a few weeks ago and has decided not to consider passing a ban or moratorium, after hearing comments for hours from a group so large the meeting had to be held in the Oxford school auditorium. Many of those who spoke were in favor of natural gas development and opposed to a ban.

Last week, the Village of Oxford Planning Board hosted two speakers, an attorney pushing for a natural gas moratorium, David Slottje, and another attorney to discuss the risks associated with passing a natural gas moratorium. I was at the meeting with Slottje and reported on it here and village landowner, Denise LaTourette also shared her reactions to the presentations. The whole purpose of having the planning board host these two speakers was for the planning board to gather information to make a recommendation to the Village of Oxford Board on whether or not they thought its advisable to pass a natural gas moratorium.

Tuesday night a group of 10 or so individuals opposed to natural gas development in the Town of Oxford attended the Village of Oxford Board meeting in their bright green shirts trying to make the statement they didn’t want natural gas development on Gerry Lake. They were told Tuesday night several times Gerry Lake is in the town, not the village.  Maybe they thought the village board members said “Ricki Lake” but she doesn’t live there either, of course.  Or, maybe they thought Gerry Lake was Ricki’s husband.  It’s hard to know what they were thinking.

Where is Gerry Lake Again?

Gerry Lake, Town of Oxford, NY

The exact same group, of course, showed up in the exact same green shirts last night to the village planning board meeting.

Fact: Gerry Lake is still located in the town–I know; even after last night it didn’t move! Okay, I completely understand New York State is confusing. Between towns, villages, counties it does get messy, but these folks live in the town, pay town taxes, and were told Tuesday night at the village board meeting they needed to discuss natural gas on Gerry Lake with the town board. In a typical “let’s just ignore the facts” fashion, the antis dismissed this common knowledge of residents–not even about natural gas, but their addresses–and continued to petition the wrong board to do something.

To begin the planning board was asked what their position is on natural gas development and what they are going to do with their opinion. They responded by saying the village board has not taken a position on natural gas development. Yes, the village board member mentions right off the bat this is a village board issue, not town board (1:11).

After this man is told Gerry Lake is in the town (as they were all told Tuesday night) he again asks the same question.

The next anti to speak also refers to natural gas and towns. This won’t be the last time you read this in my blog, trust me. Even the board was getting frustrated at this point. Note the reaction in the video below.

“… only in towns that agree with it. If the town disagrees to it, so be it…”

Let me take a brief moment to mention Gerry Lake is in the town and is only in the town’s jurisdiction. This was a village planning board meeting and the village has no control over the town and, therefore, no control over what goes on on Gerry Lake. Oh wait–you already heard that five to ten times in the last two days? Alright, we can move on then.  Right?

Or, you would think we could at least. Yet another woman, who had spoken Tuesday night as well, brings it up again after her comment. She had already been told on Tuesday she needed to discuss her concerns with the town board because the village board has no jurisdiction over the town. Numerous audience members also informed her she lives in the town, not the village, because she lives on… you guessed it, Gerry Lake. Yet, her opening line was still,

I want to ask the board why in the first place you chose to live in the town of Oxford… what do you love about the town… why I love the town…

That’s an easy one to answer. They never chose to live in the town, as they live in the village. You can her comments in the following video.

But, it wasn’t just their Gerry Lake questions that were redundant. They continued to ask the same other questions they have gotten the answers to over and over again.

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Moving On

Bryant La Tourette, a village property owner, spoke and made several great points.  He noted the village (yes, still the village) already has a zoning code in place. Enacting a moratorium would be a waste of time and taxpayer money.

The same man who spoke before Bryant, the one who was corrected by the board, made another statement after Bryant. He talked a lot about the roads and how natural gas vehicles would be using state and county roads. Near the end of his new comment he mentioned the town roads. The village planning board has absolutely no control over town roads, of course, so we were off and running again down the path (road) of confusion.

Sue Dorsey also spoke, presenting the village planning board with the papers she had presented the village board Tuesday. She never got a chance to really discuss her points when attorney Slottje came to the village, so she expressed her main points last night.

Some people in the audience suggested they were against horizontal natural gas wells, but they hadn’t argued against vertical wells. Watch the videos below and form your own opinions.

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Bryant spoke one more time raising even more great points, including how horizontal natural gas development is better as far as surface disruption than vertical wells. Two horizontal natural gas wells will take the place of up to 70 vertical natural gas wells.

My father also had a few facts to point out again, but given the seeming inability of the much of the audience to absorb the fact they were at a village planning board meeting, not a town meeting, he may have wasted his breath. Watch his statement below.

All in all, when the meeting ended the village planning board, for some strange reason, hadn’t gotten the anti “go ahead” message to regulate the town or Gerry Lake.  They, at least, understood Gerry Lake is in the town mentioning it numerous times.  If I have to hear this explanation one more time, in fact, I think I’ll scream.  It does demonstrate one unchallengeable fact, however: you can lead an anti to the lake of facts or the facts on the lake, but you can’t make them drink or learn.  That, they have to do for themselves.

I never thought I would admit this, but I am going to have to steal a line from David Slottje himself.  He told the audience at the last village planning board meeting Attorney Wedlake would disagree with him on everything, including the fact David is bald.  I don’t think that’s true at all but am forced to accept the fact the antis do disagree with every fact they hear, including they reside.  Okay, so it isn’t the exact same line but it certainly is the same logic. Just in case anyone was worried, Gerry Lake still hasn’t moved into the village (I Googled it to make sure it didn’t get up and walk from the town to the village).  Rest easy!

Stay tuned for more information on what’s up in Oxford.  That’s the Village of Oxford (not the Town of Oxford or the university) for those of you live on Gerry Lake.


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