Genesee Country Express

SPRINGWATER – Springwater's five-member town board voted unanimously Monday night to adopt a local law that would extend the town's moratorium on hydraulic fracking for another year.

The moratorium, which has been in effect in Springwater for the past two years, comes on the heels of a June 30 ruling from the state's Court of Appeals that confirmed a municipality’s right to ban fracking within its borders.

The fracking process involves the injection of chemical-laded water into the ground at high pressure. The water breaks up subsurface shale which contains natural gas deposits.

“With our proximity to Hemlock and Canadice Lakes, I don't think fracking would be good for our community. There's too many instances of aquifer pollution and negatives attached to the fracking issue,” said town supervisor Deborah Babbitt-Henry, explaining the board's decision to extend the moratorium. “At all the public hearings that have been held, there was only one person came forward for fracking and 150 that came forward as anti-fracking. That sends us a very clear message of where our community wanted us to be.”

Local residents who attended Monday night's meeting were staunchly anti-fracking. The board's 5-0 decision to extend the moratorium was even greeted with a smattering of applause from the assembled crowd.

Conesus resident Tawn Feeney spoke to the board before its vote, urging them to continue with the moratorium.

“For me, the major (reason) is the strong potential for accidents that will basically destroy the local environment,” said Feeney, who is a member of the anti-fracking advocacy group Frack-Free Genesee. “There are over 500 chemicals that are in the fracking fluid, many of which are proprietary and therefore unknown to the public. Even the ones we know of like Benzene are know to be... carcinogens and pollutants.”

Hemlock resident Bob Nielson, another member of Frack-Free Genesee, was of a like mind.

“We have one of the most beautiful lakes in the state right here in our backyards,” he said. “It's (fracking) a heavy industry and this is a quiet community. I don't think the two mix.”

Babbitt-Henry stressed that the moratorium was a temporary measure and that town's comprehensive plan, which is currently being written by the town's planning board, will take a more permanent stance on whether to allow fracking within Springwater's limits.

“Instead of the town board making a decision, we're leaving it open to the citizens and the planning board,” said Springwater's deputy town supervisor Larry Gnau.