The Niskayuna Town Board on Tuesday night moved to ban two very different practices: a controversial form of gas drilling known as hydrofracking and the use of bows and crossbows in town parks.
The board voted 3-0 to enact a moratorium on fracking in the town, effectively banning the practice for three years or until state regulations supersede it.
The board voted for the ban even while noting the question remains whether companies would even be interested in drilling in the town. The vote, board members said, sends a message to the state saying the town is against it until more is known about its impacts.
Voting for the moratorium were Supervisor Joe Landry and board members Julie McDonnell and Liz Orzel Kasper. Board members Jonathan McKinney and Denise Murphy McGraw were absent.
“I think we have to send a message to the governor that we don’t support it at this moment,” Kasper said, “because everything I hear, including lately, is they really don’t know what the effect long-term is.”
McDonnell and Landry echoed those sentiments. McDonnell said it was important to make the policy decision as an elected body. Landry cited many unknowns. “This moratorium will delay this and will allow for more study,” he said.
Tuesday’s vote came more than two months after the board held a public hearing on the issue. Landry said the vote was put off when it looked as if the state might decide the issue sooner rather than later.
Niskayuna now joins other communities in passing similar legislation. Guilderland passed its own moratorium over the summer.
The Niskayuna local law is expected to be in place for either three years or until the state Department of Environmental Conservation comes out with regulations. The DEC regulations would then pre-empt the local law.
Regarding the archery ban, the board set a Dec. 18 public hearing on that issue.
The proposal is to ban both bows and crossbows from town parks and recreation areas. Firearms are already prohibited.
The lack of a ban was spotted by a resident near the Woodlawn Preserve and brought to the town’s attention, Landry said. The city of Schenectady has an explicit ban, but Niskayuna does not. He said he was not aware of any incidents of bow hunting in the parks.
The proposal would ban the bows, except for competition or instruction approved by the town.