Anti-fracking ordinance: Petitioners seek town meeting

Petitioners are seeking a town meeting on a proposed anti-fracking ordinance.

The wording of a petition for a town meeting to vote on an “ordinance prohibiting the storage, disposal or use of waste oil, and gas exploration or extraction activities or any derivative” has been reviewed and approved by Town Attorney Dave Grogins.

“I hereby determine that the matters covered by the petition for purposes of adopting an ordinance are proper subjects for action by a town meeting,” Grogins wrote in an Oct. 18 letter to First Selectman Rudy Marconi.

To require a special town meeting, petitions need to be signed by 2% of town voters — 369 voters, according to Town Clerk Wendy Lionetti.

In view of the petition effort, Marconi said, the selectmen had put a hold on their own effort to draft and present voters with an anti-fracking ordinance based on a model ordinance from the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities.

“We’re waiting for a petition,” Marconi said, that is expected from “a group of residents that support an ordinance they say has been passed by 50 municipalities in the state of Connecticut.”

The anti-fracking ordinance the petitioners are advancing has won support from environmental groups around the state, and is viewed as more stringent than the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities’ draft that the selectmen were considering as an alternative.

“The Board of Selectmen felt we needed to do our due diligence assessing the ordinance as proposed,” Marconi said. “And I have personally spoken to CEOs of other towns that felt it is too restrictive and broad in scope — to the point where potentially it could have a negative impact on a municipality’s ability to purchase products such as asphalt, and salt for our roads during the winter.”

Editor's note: There will be a longer version of this story running on The Press website later this week after tonight's selectmen's meeting.