NORWICH – Chenango County Attorney Richard Breslin has refused to comply with a written request and telephone inquiries regarding the leasing of county-owned land and right-of-ways for natural gas wells and transmission easements.
An Oct. 1 Freedom of Information request from The Evening Sun asked the county’s lawyer to verify whether drilling would be permitted at Gaius M. Cook Memorial Park in Greene. Members of the Natural Gas Advisory Committee last month said Breslin had responded to their request for a ruling on leasing the 116-acre, recreational park’s subsurface rights, and had decided against permitting drilling.
Breslin rejected The Evening Sun’s FOIL request for confirmation, however, saying it represented “privileged legal advice and opinion” and “constituted an intra-agency communication that was exempt from disclosure.”
A call to Breslin’s office requesting an opinion on whether pipeline could be laid alongside or bored under county right-of-ways was similarly refused. “I am not going to comment on that,” he said. An item on the agenda of Oct. 28th gas advisory committee meeting referred to a gas company’s request for such easements. “You’ll have to ask the attorney, but we believe his opinion was, ‘No,’” said County Planner Rena Doing.
Members of the special committee, formed in July, have discussed these matters and more with the mission of developing policies and protocols to address the natural gas issues facing the county. Other than the unofficial county positions stated, legal counsel will be required as they pertain to pipeline easements on other county-owned land and the controversial issue of permitting seismic testing along county right-of-ways. The committee also has the option of making policy referrals to other committees or resolutions to the full Chenango County Board of Supervisors, but haven’t yet.