January 3, 2013


Year in Review:

Towns deal with fracking


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
A crowd of about 75 people rallied against hydrofracking in June outside the Homer Town Hall. Homer and Virgil are considering a moratorium on the gas drilling practice.

From staff reports
Many local municipalities in Cortland County stood out in various ways throughout 2012.
Towns continued to deal with the looming consequences of hydraulic fracturing and natural gas drilling.
A survey released in January and commissioned by Gas Drilling Awareness for Cortland County and Moving in Congregations, Acting in Hope, found that 60 percent of local residents interviewed oppose fracking as a method to extract natural gas underground. The state is still finalizing regulations for the controversial drilling method.
The town of Dryden fought a court challenge by an energy company to its zoning law change that bans heavy industry, including fracking. The decision to uphold the town’s zoning is being appealed.
In Groton, fracking has polarized some town residents. Meetings have been held throughout the year, most recently on Nov. 7 when a Cornell University professor made a presentation criticizing the process.
Over 800 Groton residents signed a petition in April asking that it be banned in the town. Members of the Dryden Safe Energy Coalition made a pro-fracking presentation in July attempting to debunk rumors about its impacts. The Groton Town Board has considered imposing a six-month moratorium on fracking.
Virgil and Homer have also considered fracking moratoriums, but are further studying the issue.
Lapeer and Marathon joined 43 municipalities statewide that violated the state-imposed 2 percent tax cap.
The state Comptroller’s Office found in January that the town of Lapeer and the Marathon Joint Fire District violated the state’s new tax levy increase cap, misinterpreting the law. A total of 43 municipalities statewide violated the cap for the same reason.
Cincinnatus and Dryden stood out for significant anniversaries in 2012.
Cortland Chenango Rural Services, located on Lower Cincinnatus Road in Cincinnatus next to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, celebrated its 25th anniversary in September. The organization offers discounted food, used clothing, counseling and other forms of assistance.
The agency serves six towns in Chenango County and five in Cortland County: Pitcher, South Otselic, German, Lincklaen, McDonough, Pharsalia, Cincinnatus, Willet, Solon, Taylor and Freetown.
The Dryden Historical Society took possession of the 176-year-old Southworth home, celebrating with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Feb. 3. The society began using the home at 14 North St. as its headquarters. The Southworths were a prominent local family whose descendants supported the society.
After years of planning and fundraising, the Central New York Living History Center opened this summer on Route 11 in Cortlandville. Among the featured displays are the Brockway Museum, and Tractors of Yesteryear display and the Homeville Museum featuring an extensive military and railroad collection.
Residents of some towns came out against the plans by United Kingdom-based TCI Renewables to build a wind farm in Solon, Cortlandville, Truxton and Homer. The developer hopes to erect 48 turbines in the area.
Solon Town Board members heard opposition from about 200 residents in the form of a signed petition in September, opposing the wind farm proposed for the county. The petition asked the board to stop drafting local regulations for wind turbine projects. Twenty-two turbines are slated for the town as part of the project.
Truxton in September passed a six-month moratorium on commercial wind farms while it studies the issue. TCI Renewables plans to build 11 of its local wind turbines in the town. In December, Cortlandville extended a moratorium on wind power projects for another six months while it considers local regulations.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in September began a $10 million cleanup of a heavily polluted former industrial waste processing site on Union Valley-Lincklaen Road in Lincklaen.
The latest phase of an extensive cleanup project at the former Cortland-Homer Manufactured Gas Plant on Route 11 in Homer had cranes looming near the road and minor traffic diversions for the second half of the year.
Solar panels, new windows and other energy efficient improvements were made this year to Preble Town Hall. The work cost about $140,000, much of it paid through grants funds, and the town expects to cut its energy costs.
The United Way for Cortland County held its first triathlon in September based at Dwyer Memorial Park in Little York as a fundraiser. it included a half-mile swim, a 15-mile bike ride and a 5-kilometer run.
The annual New York State Firefighter Winter Games were held Feb. 3-5 at Greek Peak resorts in Virgil and SUNY Cortland facilities in Cortlandville. The event drew about 200 firefighters from across the state. Events included tube racing sled pull, hose relay and tug of war at the ski center and broomball at the college.
The city and the village of Homer were lauded in January for cooperation between municipalities.
City firefighters began conducting fire inspections in the village of Homer in January, in a move that both municipalities said was a good example of sharing services.
Cortlandville officials have been searching for a way to fund the replacement of a 1.1 mile sewer line on Route 13 that extends to the Finger Lakes East Business Park, which Byrne Dairy announced in October it would purchase for a facility to produce yogurt and cheese products. The existing line was installed in the 1960s.
Preble Post Office celebrated 200 years of mail service on Nov. 2.
A 72-acre site at the intersection of Salt and Old Stage roads in Groton were designated as a unique natural area by the Tompkins County Environmental Management Council in October. The site is home to rare plants or plants that exist on few sites statewide, including the northern bog aster and sedge. There is also an uncommon flower on the site, the American globeflower.
No bids were offered in September for the former Camp Georgetown, a minimum security prison closed by the state in 2011.
A 72-unit housing project on Route 38 near Dryden Middle-Senior High School is nearing completion after months of construction. Poets Landing has been advertising for tenants.
Several local municipalities are working on plans to coordinate development.
Cortlandville is working on a townwide plan, the town of Dryden last month approved a plan to guide development in the hamlet of Varna, and also last month the village of Homer, town of Cortlandville and city of Cortland discussed hiring a consultant to plan development of the Route 11 corridor that stretches across those communities.


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