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Callicoon draft Comprehensive Plan unveiled; gas drilling cited; public work session scheduled

By Fritz Mayer
April 10, 2012

Unlike the Towns of Bethel, Highland, Tusten and Lumberland, officials in the Town of Callicoon think there may be a place for industrial activity and gas drilling in the town’s future.

The draft Comprehensive Plan update is now available on the town’s website, townofcallicoon.org, and while it says there are concerns related to the exploitation of the Marcellus Shale, the plan also says there may be benefits.

In the section detailing the industry, the document says that because of being located off main transportation routes and a lack of infrastructure, it “seems unlikely” that any industry would locate in the town with the possible exception of gas drilling, which could come with “both positive and negative” impacts.

The document notes that the town is in the process of doing a road assessment study, which will be important if gas drilling does become a reality because of heavy truck traffic and possible damage to roads associated with “this or any other new industry.”

The draft says it is important to ensure the health of the town’s plentiful water supply in the face of various possible polluting processes, including “agricultural runoff, road salt, bulk tank storage, wastewater from residential and commercial uses and industrial activities such as natural gas drilling.”

Further, it says, “Because of the high volume of water and the chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing, there is concern for the safety of the area’s drinking water. The storing of water used during the hydraulic fracturing process also presents a potential source of pollution of our water.”

Under a section titled Environment and Natural Resources, gas drilling is listed as an opportunity: “The prospect of natural gas drilling could bring economic benefits to help landowners keep their land.” In the same section, it is also listed as a threat: “The prospect of natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale could negatively impact our water quality, our rural character and our agricultural base.”

Gas drilling is also listed as an opportunity related to the town’s transportation network because of the Multi-Municipal Task Force, which is creating a legal framework through which “the costs of road damage associated with high-traffic activities are borne by those who cause the damage, rather than the towns and taxpayers.” Here, again, gas drilling is listed as a source of additional revenues to provide for the town’s infrastructure.