OXFORD – Dozens of residents from the Town of Oxford attended a public hearing intended to address procedural changes to a much contested revised zoning ordinance that some residents feel have implications steeped in the gas an oil industry.
At the heart of the matter, 2014 revisions by planning board officials to the town's 2007 zoning ordinances which have created a rift among some community members and the board, the latter insisting the modifications merely give the municipality regulatory control over “material staging areas” within its jurisdiction.
“If we do not regulate the practice of material staging through permitting land use by special exception, then we cannot control it,” said board member Jerry Locke.
But many Oxford residents are concerned that the changes are an ambiguous attempt to make it all the easier for large energy industries to setup shop, and that the Oxford Town Board is inviting shale-gas development by adding material staging areas as a permitted use by “special exception” within its agricultural and commercial districts.
While the proposed ordinance defines material staging areas simply as “temporary material storage,” the term also serves a broad industry term that describes necessary types of storage sites related to the gas and oil industry – which is regulated under the umbrella of the New York State Environmental Conservation Law.