Hancock opposes Scenic Byway proposal;‘ a backdoor attempt… to ban natural gas development’
September 14, 2011 —
The board of the Town of Hancock is not happy with the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway (UDSB). On August 22, the USDB passed a resolution urging all levels of government to adopt a ban regarding some truck uses on Route 97.
The resolution proposed that “all large trucks and vehicles involved in new forms of heavy industrial use and mining” be banned from using the route, but that “traditional forms of truck usage on New York State Route 97, such as the use of vehicles for agriculture, lumbering, bluestone mining and transport of canoes” continue to be allowed, and that continuation was supported by the UDSB.
The stated reason for the resolution is that the mission of the USDB is to protect the appeal to visitors of the highway and the views and access it provides to the Upper Delaware River.
The Hancock Town Board did not see it that way. They passed a resolution of their own on September 7, which said that the UDSB resolution was “not a restriction on industrial traffic on New York State Route 97, but rather a backdoor attempt by a taxpayer-funded organization to ban natural gas development on private property within the whole corridor.”
The town board further said, “Delaware County is one of the poorest counties in New York State and it’s appalling that a portion of the $1,290,125.80 of federal and state tax dollars to fund the UDSB are being used to restrict private property landowners rights and home rule.”
The UDSB resolution suggested that the Norfolk-Southern railroad, which runs parallel to Route 97 for its entire length, is the “traditional form by which industrial equipment and materials have been moved through the Upper Delaware River Valley since it was constructed in the 1850s.”
The town board responded that UDSB’s resolution, as written, “would prohibit unloading the accessories from the railcars anywhere in the Upper Delaware Region.”
Further, the town board questioned whether the resolution was “meant to include the equipment and supplies for wind and solar energy also. Is it legal to ban one particular use?” it asked.
The town board said it had declined to join the UDSB when it was formed in 2001 because they feared the committee would usurp local control, and the UDSB’s resolution was the realization of their “worst fears.”
The board of the Village of Hancock, unlike the town board, is a member of the UDSB and the representative from the village voted in favor of the USDB resolution.