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New York’s High Court Upholds Municipalities’ Zoning Rules

Photo by Kathy Whyte

Municipalities in New York State have the right to control how properties within their borders are used.

New York’s highest court yesterday morning ruled in favor of municipalities like Dryden in Tompkins County, which put a ban on hydraulic fracture drilling for natural gas within the town.

The State Court of Appeals upheld a lower court ruling that says mineral rights laws do not trump the authority of local governments to control land use.

The natural gas industry and land owner coalitions that support drilling had been closely watching the cases filed by Dryden and another municipality.

While environmentalists have been pushing for a longer moratorium on fracking in order to study the effects on water and the health of residents, some anti-fracking components say yesterday’s ruling is not a total victory.

Experts say the upholding of a ban within one municipality does not prevent a neighboring government to okay the controversial gas extraction process right next door.

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