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Peters Township Council Urges Residents to Vote ‘No’ on Drill Ban

A two-page letter was released and mailed Monday to Peters residents stating the '(anti-drilling) referendum violates residents' federally protected constitutional rights.'

As Election Day nears, Peters Township officials are pleading voters to oppose the anti-drilling referendum, filed by the Marcellus Shale Awareness & Action group, placed on the Nov. 8 ballot. 

Earlier this month, of placing the amendment on the ballot following the  to let voters decide whether to amend the township's home rule charter to ban gas drilling.

A lawsuit by Peters Township officials failed to stop the referendum.

The two-page letter, released and mailed to Peters residents Monday—begging voters to oppose the drill ban—is signed unanimously by Peters Township Council. 

It states: 

"A Home Rule Charter Referendum on the ballot Nov. 8 will have numerous serious effects on the future of our community if approved.

"On the surface, it leads voters to believe that it's solely a ban on Marcellus Shale drilling in our community; however, if you read the "fine print," it's much more than that. It changes landowner rights, opens the Township to numerous lawsuits, and puts the future of our community in financial jeopardy."

It continues: 

"And, what's even more detrimental is that this referendum violates residents' federally protected constitutional rights. It also proposes that the Township is not subject to both the Pennsylvania and United States Constitutions.

"If passed, this amendment raises serious concerns over the validity of our Home Rule Charter and the financial future of our community.

"We have an outstanding community and want to maintain its natural environment for future generations. And, because of that, Peters Township Council has enacted zoning ordinances to protect residents while strictly regulating Gas Drilling."

At Monday night's council meeting, members set a budget workshop for Nov. 7 to begin planning the 2012 budget.

Tuesday, Peters Township Manager Michael Silvestri said council will consider adding a 2-mill tax increase to cover legal expenses if the  is approved in the Nov. 8 election.

Silvestri said the two-mil increase will not be added if the amendment is defeated.

To read the letter in its entirety, and the ordinance, see the attached documents.

Rodrick Fletcher October 26, 2011 at 11:03 PM
Judy – Have you seen a sampling of those 300,000 wells? These aren't deep shale jobs. The hydraulic fractioning process is not the same, once again, purely from a perspective of the incredible scale, pressures and volume of water used. Also, I don’t much appreciate being called a liar. Whether Range was able to sell off their holdings or not, doesn’t mean they weren’t effectively run out of town, or towns. Check the ordinances within the townships through the Texas Barnett shale region: 600’-1200’ setbacks from the wellhead to any protected use (practically any building); closed-loop systems (no frack ponds), and etc. These ordinances run 50+ pages. Why are these ordinances so tough?? Isn’t this the same general area that Range pooled their workforce from? Isn’t Ft. Worth the redneck big brother to Dallas? How did Range Resource strike it rich on this pocket of environmental activism, right there in North Texas? Maybe it’s because this crap so incredibly bad, that it’ll turn any good ol’ boy, green (both literally and figuratively). In any case, this is the real reason RR abandoned their headquarters… a new big fat dumb flock of sheep to fleece way up North in Pennsylvania. Yee-haa!
Rodrick Fletcher October 26, 2011 at 11:03 PM
Don't you hear them laughing at you?
Judy Thadddeus October 26, 2011 at 11:24 PM
Nope. They are laughing at you. Do you think that someone payed $900 million but can't/isn't going to drill? That would be an incredible situation. You are correct about the new big fat dumb flock of sheep up North in PA call PTMSA but I really didn't expect that kind of honesty from you. Actually, I thought that only CELDF referred to you and your PTMSA friends as a big fat dumb flock of sheep. That is exactly what they need for you to be. I can see that you won't disappoint.
Rodrick Fletcher October 27, 2011 at 12:13 AM
That was some brilliant repartee there, Jude. That was trully clever how you turned that that whole sheep thing around on me. Wow! The point is, Range fled their own home base of operations, because it was too tough for them to do business there. I didn't say it was too tough for anybody to scrape by with it. It's just way easier to come up to big happy Pennsylvanian virtuall unconstrained by practical ordinances
Kim October 27, 2011 at 12:34 AM
As a RESIDENT of Peter's Twp. I'd like to commend our council and administration for an outstanding job creating an ordinance that will do all that they legally can to control the drilling in our township without violating the rights of landowners. The battle to ban drilling (if this is what you believe is right) is in Harrisburg not in Peters. Also I'd like to correct those whose have stated that our township is "transient" and lacks "community", you obviously are not from here so please quit misrepresenting this township and the many fine people that live here. Now those who are fighting, name calling, insulting, etc on this site and are not from this community please do us all a favor and let the residents of Peters decide what we want to do. Perhaps your time is better spent in your own community. Please vote no to the referendum. .
bigrigroberto October 27, 2011 at 12:53 AM
Awe, Fletcher is having a tantrum..What's your problem with Range? Oh, I'll bet you didn't get a lease and you're upset you won't be making any money. Bummer. Oh, and the fat dumb flock of sheep from Texas? Just curious but how does that explain all the people from PA working in the gas industry? Put your foil hat back on and go sit in the corner. Let the adults have a conversation. Ooohhh, speaking of which...
bigrigroberto October 27, 2011 at 12:56 AM
I had a call from a friend today. Apparently, Miss "I left PTMSA but I didnt/I have a pHd but I don't/I want a ban on drilling but I'm ok with setbacks" Jet Miskis was running around today handing out literature and door hangers. Guess she got called out and fled the scene when asked for ...facts. Yep, facts are like the garlic to the anti-drilling vampires who want to suck the lifeblood from the community. But she did tell some young lady "I'm a molecular biologist". Last time I checked, Jet, that required a degree...
Grant October 27, 2011 at 02:57 PM
Judy wrote "Everyone is entitled to their own opinion about drilling and are free to attempt/demand changes to the laws. It is illegal to strip the drillers and lease holders of their rights." You know if the law is changed, its not illegal anymore. I think thats whats going on here. People are attempting to change the LAWS.
Judy Thadddeus October 27, 2011 at 03:07 PM
No Grant, people are not attempting to change the law. Our community cannot change the laws of the state of Pa. by having a local vote. The CELDF guy on another Patch said that this was to raise awareness of the oil and gas act. Well, you and he can do that with your own money. I think it's a stupid idea and don't want to pay for that.
Grant October 27, 2011 at 03:12 PM
yeah, i am not sure but it looked like a THREAT to me as well. He should be ashamed of himself. Fear tactics and mis-truths are all they have going for them. Have you gotten the halloween fear fracking calls yet....? Someone is paying al awful lot of money for canvasing calls to all of PT residents. They are very enjoyable, and its sort of a choose your own fear-adventure. If you are concerned about jobs, you get one line about how a ban gas drilling would be a terrible thing for us as a community... there are a couple other choices. When they call tell them you are concerned about all of the issues equally so you can hear all the horror stories. Seems very reminiscent of political campaigning. They must be very scared of this setting a precedent for other communities to protect themselves. I will be voting YES. Also Judy, you may want to take a look at these articles regarding property values and gas drilling. I believe it is you who are ill informed on the issue there. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/20/us/rush-to-drill-for-gas-creates-mortgage-conflicts.html http://www.theithacajournal.com/article/20111021/NEWS01/110210382/Tompkins-governments-Hinchey-draw-attention-drilling-s-impact-mortgages?odyssey=nav%7Chead http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brendan-demelle/gas-industry-front-group-_b_1026047.html There are many more... but these should get you started
Judy Thadddeus October 27, 2011 at 03:26 PM
Dude, Grant, Your links all support my claim that there is no decreasse in property values. Thanks! Your links give opinions on mortgages. I'll help you out 1) property value is the assessed value of your home. A mortgage is a means to borrow many inorder to purchase a home. 2) If your provide links, I'll actually click on them, so will others. Maybe you should read before you post.
Grant October 27, 2011 at 03:32 PM
You don't see refusals to offer a mortgage or refi as an issue???? If a bank will not lend you money on your property nor will they allow someone to buy your property by providing a mortgage, then your properties value becomes non-existant/ irrelevant. I don't know about you but if you live in a house and fix it up, at some point the goal is to sell that house and make back at LEAST what you put into it. The banks are stating that they are not willing to provide mortgages for properties with gas leases.... this precludes this from happening. And not sure if anyone ever told you this but your house is not worth what you think it is, or what you paid for it, or even what you put into it, it is worth what someone will pay you for it.
Judy Thadddeus October 27, 2011 at 03:43 PM
Grant, Why don't your read your own links? Even your own links say that SOME lenders have some issues. There are over 380,000 drilled wells in PA. There are over 3500 Marcellus wells in Pa. There will be a few thousand wells drilled this year alone. There are a huge number of leased properties thoughout SWPA. There are huge pipelines currently running through PT. How are houses continuing to sell if they can't be mortgaged? Pa realestate is doing better than most other states while we have an extremely active gas industry.
suzanne kennedy October 27, 2011 at 03:47 PM
Grant, if the amendment is approved, it will almost certainly be overturned in court. Even CELDF Projects Manager recognized this - read his comments on the news articles about the Blaine Township case, where two local CELDF drafted laws were overturned. If it is overturned in PT, drillers get site specific relief so they can drill anywhere they want in PT wherever they have leases. They don't have to follow any laws (our ordinance will be nullified immediately if the amendment is approved) except the industry partial O&G Act. So there can potentially be dozens of drills in PT when drillers win. Resident lease holders, if they win their lawsuits, will be awarded large monetary awards. So at the end of the day, when all the dust is settled, how will you feel about PT if these things come to pass, knowing you had a hand in making it happen? Approving this amendment has the potential to devastate PT over the course of a few short years. These are not scare tactics - they are facts. Case law supports these facts. So how will you feel about trying to ban drilling, and potentially making PT ground zero for drillers because of this legally flawed amendment?
Grant October 27, 2011 at 03:51 PM
Judy, I do read my links... I didnt just scan the internet and offer unread links. Yes some mortgage companies are having some issues. In a time when getting a mortgage can be challenging even for people with a good credit rating would you really suggest that taking away SOME players is a good idea? I would suggest that is it NOT a good idea, and these players we are talking about are not your little community banks, they are some of the largest mortgage makers and holders IN THE COUNTRY. Also you are using statistical data for the whole state and ignoring specific areas of PA where drilling is occurring to make the statement that PA property values are increasing on a whole. AND you provide no statistical data and sourced for your argument.
Grant October 27, 2011 at 03:58 PM
Susanne, I believe the current ordnance will do little to protect us and ultimately be overturned in court anyhow, so i think this is our only other option. You asked how i feel, that is how i feel. I think PT is already ground zero, why else would some entity be on a calling canvas to all PT residents instilling fear in them.
suzanne kennedy October 27, 2011 at 07:08 PM
Grant, when I said ground zero I did not refer to the POTENTIAL for drilling. I mean ground zero for ACTUAL # OF WELLS IN A TOWNSHIP. I don't think the pro ban people really understand the consequences of "site specific relief", which is what the judge awards drillers who sue because they can't follow through on their leases. Possible scenario: Nov. 8 - amendment gets approved and is automatically effective; Nov. 9 - RR files with PT their site plans for every PT parcel where they've signed leases (could be 30 or more); PT must refuse permits for site plans due to ban amendment; RR sues PT, says ban amendment is illegal due to O&G Act violations and US Constitution violations (same as Blaine Township lawsuit); court agrees with RR (just like Blaine Township); court awards site specific relief (standard relief awarded in land use issues). So now RR can put up rigs on each parcel where they have leases! If they have 35 leases in PT, they can put up 35 rigs. They can put them anywhere on each parcel they choose to - right at the edge, in the middle, etc....The only rules they have to follow are the state O&G rules. Can PT stop them legally? No. The case is finished, the rigs are up, and now what are you going to do about the quality of life in PT? The amendment has done nothing to protect PT - it actually opened to door to unregulated drilling. If people understood how realistic and possible a scenario this is, they would not approve the amendment.
Grant October 27, 2011 at 07:23 PM
You are purely speculating. You admitted you have no legal background, so forgive me if i don't accept your OPINION on how the legal decision will go. Unless you have a crystal ball maybe this is something better suited for the courts to determine. I am curious, what about Pittsburgh..... they banned Drilling, and the Ban stands. You can use whatever facts support your side of the argument, thats fine, that is how this works, however you don't know the future, and it is my opinion to disagree with you.
Ileen Springer October 27, 2011 at 07:26 PM
My prior post was made with deep sarcasm and a desire to say something as ridiculously shocking & absurd as councilman’s remark on taxes for votes, and another's claims of financial gain to community w/drilling. "Big trucks, flames, man camps" came from friends who live and work in Greene Co. (in ref to their surroundings). However, since my rant wasn't to offend GC, I deleted it. Too many take their personal opinions on law, as facts. Neither side is 100% sure of outcome in a court of law. I think the “YES” voters feel there will be legal action anyways, so why not use the lawyer’s time fighting to ban the drilling, instead of dishing it out for council’s terms? While the “NO” voters feel council should protect their rights to sell their gas rights & profit, and don’t mind us footing the bill in court to have it on council’s terms, which may b overturned. Either way the tax payers are paying the bill with high risk. Right? I need more info on the “ramifications” of voting YES. I saw claims by council, but are they FACTS? Or, just their own predictions? I see one group working for the good for entire community (dedicating themselves with no actual gain), while the other is driven by personal gain. Fear is a factor on both sides & will come all too clear when drilling starts. Even leasors can share in fear if they want: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/andrew-reinbach/stop-gas-drilling-sue-you_b_787881.html Anything is possible, I guess!
suzanne kennedy October 27, 2011 at 07:31 PM
Grant, regarding our ordinance: it may be challenged - many things can be challenged. But will the challenge prevail? Will the whole ordinance be overturned? Unlikely. The ordinance requires conditional use - which means drillers must meet a set of conditions before permits are issued by PT. Example: PT says "we have 7 conditions for you, driller. You've met 5 of them. No permit unless you meet all 7". Driller goes to court:" Judge, we can meet 5 of PT's conditions, but not 2. Please throw out the whole ordinance." Judge can say:" I agree about the 2 conditions you can't meet - I'll throw those 2 out, but the others stay - you've already admitted you can meet them.!" Judge can also say "No. All 7 conditions are reasonable. Ordinance upheld." A driller arguing about a 2-3 small points in a large ordinance is not very convincing. A driller arguing about the ENTIRE AMENDMENT being illegal is more convincing. Look at the odds - our ordinance is strict, pushs the envelope a little, but is within the law. The amendment is completely illegal. It violates state and federal law. Blaine's two laws were almost identical to PT's & they were both overturned. How would you bet this will turnout? Passed amendment + overturned in court = unregulated drilling and hefty tax increase in PT. I'm taking the safer bet.
Grant October 27, 2011 at 07:33 PM
Ileen, You didnt have to remove your post, (i got the scarcasm, but i think its true as well as i read his statement the same way you did. I also agree how people seem to see their VIEW or OPINION as the FACT, while indeed it may not be. There are very few FACTS in this whole discussion that i have seen here. When i make a statement about one of my reasons i try to at least back it up with news stories or links to existing research.
Judy Thadddeus October 27, 2011 at 07:45 PM
" I see one group working for the good for entire community (dedicating themselves with no actual gain" I have no idea who that would be! As I see it: PTMSA- ban: They represent PT residents who are completely against drilling PTMSA-ordinance: They represent those against drilling too but include some consideration towards the taxpayers. PT Council - They are aligned with PTMSA - ordinance Lease holders are completely out in the cold. Those who support the gas industry are completely out in the cold. Who is gaining anything? Fear is driving the three groups but not the lease holders or the supporters.
suzanne kennedy October 27, 2011 at 07:49 PM
IIeen - if you need information on the ramifications of passing this amendment, attend the meeting my husband and I are sponsoring on Wed Nov 2 from 7-8pm at Rolling Hills Country Club. I can assure you my husband I will not benefit personally if the amendment is voted down. We live on a 1/2 acre lot in a development with an association. We declined a request by landsmen for horizontal drilling leases. We hired attorney Leslie Peters (the Nov. 2 meeting speaker) precisely because I did not want a generous ordinance in PT. We live 200 feet from farm property, & did not want a rig 200 feet from my front door (the state O&G Act minimum). I paid for Ms. Peters representation at our homeowner's association meeting, because the association was considering leasing the common areas . This has cost us thousands of dollars, and we are not finished, as we have to pay for her preparation and presentation on Nov. 2. But this is an investment in our future in PT. If it protects PT, it protects me. This amendment offers NO protection to me or PT. It will actually harm me and PT. That's why I'm willing to incur more legal bills. I do not want our ordinance nullified (which happens automatically if the amendment is passed). I do not want unregulated drilling in PT. I do not want a hefty tax increase. I can assure you, if I talk the talk, I walk the walk. Hope to see you on the 2nd.
suzanne kennedy October 27, 2011 at 07:58 PM
Judy - just want to clarify - there is no PTMSA/ban and PTMSA/ordinance. There is ONE PTMSA, and they are ALL BAN. I "left" PTMSA as quickly as I "joined", because of their pro ban agenda, and inability to hold a civil dialogue. I emailed them back and forth frequently, and found a few folks disenfranchised with them. These folks helped pay for some of Ms. Peters' expenses. But this is the split: PTMSA - hijacked by a few all ban folks; dedicated to ban disenfranchised, former PTMSA - hired Leslie Peters, pro ordinance, against ban Council - against ban My husband and I have shouldered most of Ms. Peters expenses, and are incurring more because of the meeting we are hosting at Rolling Hills Country Club on Wed. Nov. 2 from 7-8pm. The meeting is about NOT approving the amendment, the specific legal reasons to vote NO, the ramifications to PT if it is approved, and the case law which supports our current ordinance. Hope to see you there.
Judy Thadddeus October 27, 2011 at 08:08 PM
Sorry, you've explained that before, I wasn't attempting to tie you to PTMSA. I should have chosen different descriptions in my post.
suzanne kennedy October 27, 2011 at 08:10 PM
That's ok! Hope to see you at the meeting!
suzanne kennedy October 27, 2011 at 08:12 PM
Brian, PT's current ordinance, and the overlay map which has 40+ acre parcels colored in blue, is available on the municipal website. Just google "peters township municipal" - both the ordinance and map should be on the home page - just click on them for details.
Rodrick Fletcher October 27, 2011 at 11:06 PM
Suzanne - “ … RR sues PT, says ban amendment is illegal due to O&G Act violations and US Constitution violations (same as Blaine Township lawsuit); court agrees with RR (just like Blaine Township); court awards site specific relief (standard relief awarded in land use issues). So now RR can put up rigs on each parcel where they have leases! If they have 35 leases in PT, they can put up 35 rigs.” Site specific relief is only an option for when a zoned ordinance is overturned. Blaine didn’t have a zoned ordinance and so site-specific relief wasn’t awarded. Only the existing Mineral Extraction Ordinance (zoned ordinance) that both you and council back, could, and is likely to be subject to site-specific relief under the legal challenges that both Chesapeake Energy and Range Resource have already threatened. You've been spouting that same wrap for months. Did you ever mention it to Ms. Peters before? Maybe she can set you straight. It is your dime, right?
suzanne kennedy October 27, 2011 at 11:20 PM
Yes, Rod, it is my dime, thousand and thousand of them in fact. And yes, Rod, Ms. Peters and I have discussed in detail the issue of site specific relief. I also emailed you numerous times last winter and spring about the consequences of a ban ordinance or amendment being overturned in court and site specific relief. Council members explained it at many Council hearing when you were present. Solicitor Johnson explained it at those meetings when you were present. Some PA communities rescinded bans because of legal action, and still others did not pass bans at all because of the potential for lawsuits and site specific relief. It seems like you have wilfully chosen to ignore all information or advice which threatens support of your ban amendment. I can easily find out what the awards have been in these legal cases, and so can you. However, the important operative words in all of them are "lost" "overturned" "rescinded".
Anthony Brown November 07, 2011 at 05:07 PM
http://www.peterstownship.com/index.asp?Type=B_BASIC&SEC={DBB651D0-4028-441C-ABC8-F62B7EA14667}&DE={2518D414-62A5-4690-8C38-F05077605E9F}

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