Municipal planner Allen Cohen updated council last week on the deliberations of Murrysville’s Marcellus Shale Task Force. Mr. Cohen’s report laid out eight options the task force is considering to regulate drilling sites in the municipality.
- Keep the overlay district as mapped in the original oil and gas drilling ordinance.
- Modify the overlay district to eliminate potential areas of concern.
- Eliminate the overlay district and allow drilling as a conditional use in areas zoned rural-residential (R-R) on parcels meeting minimum size requirements.
- Permit drilling only in the business district (B) on parcels meeting minimum size requirements. Heavy manufacturing is currently allowed in the business district on parcels with a minimum 10-acre site.
- Create new areas in the municipality suitable for drilling and rezoning them as resource recovery districts.
- Create additional areas in business zones or create new Industrial zones suitable for drilling.
- Combine some of the above options
- Conclude that no area in Murrysville is compatible with oil and gas drilling
The municipality has no industrial or resource recovery zone classifications and regulates gas and oil drilling by identifying suitable areas in other zones. Called an overlay district, the approach is used in other communities, but legal opinions of its effectiveness vary. Mr. Cohen’s report included comments by attorney John Smith regarding the use of the overlay approach. Serving as a panelist for the Pennsylvania Bar Institute Mr. Smith said oil and gas overlay districts have potential legal hurdles.Read full Article