The nearly two dozen residents who came out to the Cecil Board of Supervisor's public hearing Monday regarding amending the current gas drilling ordinance will have to wait until July at the earliest to see how the changes discussed play out.
One of the bigger issues still being worked out in the new ordinance addresses employees of the drilling companies sleeping on site. At Monday's meetings, the board members said they would be willing to allow for site supervisors to sleep in trailers, but not employees.
The discussion touched on a suggested drafted ordinance written by Range Resources that also allows employees working on drill sites to sleep on site.
But Supervisor Andy Schrader said he had some concerns surrounding bunk housing.
“Range Resources had an information meeting a short while back. (Company spokesman) Jim Cannon was talking and I asked him two questions: if they do drug testing on their employees and he said yes. And the second question I asked was if the use the e-verify system to know who they're employing and they said no," Schrader said. “If you use the e-verify system you can't be guaranteed everything is going to work, but it does show you where these people are from and it shows if they are citizens.”
According to Cecil Supervisor Mike Debbis, this issue will be one that is addressed on an individual basis when conditional-use hearings are held for proposed drill sites.
Another aspect of the process that is prolonging the adoption of the new ordinance is a new overlay map developed to protect residential developments and schools from surface activity. The amended ordinance expands the buffer to 1500 feet for residential developments and 2000 feet for schools. This does not prevent drilling from taking place beneath these areas.
One resident, Michelle Stonemark, questioned how the board will qualify what a residential development is—and whether a group of homes on a street will get as much protection as a formal housing plan such as Timber Run.
“You can't save everybody. If there is a flood you grab as many people as you can. You can't grab everyone,” explained Supervisor Tom Casciola.
The board also discussed safety issues presented by Cecil Fire Chief Dennis Bertie. Bertie asked the board to consider forcing drillers to make the entire site accessible to emergency vehicles. He also reviewed with the board previous requests he has made to require drillers to notify the township within 24 hours of any fire or other violation.
Debbis instructed Director of Zoning Bruce Bosle to clean up and adjust the proposed ordinance as discussed, and scheduled a continuation for 6:30 p.m. June 27.
At that hearing the board will review the new overlay map as well as the amended ordinance and will be poised to vote on both issues at the regular July meeting of the board.