Litigation begins

On August 1, 2011, the Dryden Safe Energy Coalition (DSEC) placed the Town of Dryden Board on notice that enacting a ban on all energy development in the Town would constitute regulating gas development in violation of the state’s preemptive Environmental Conservation Law Section 23-0303, which reserves such power to the state level.  DSEC predicted that such action would almost certainly result in a lawsuit against the Town, forcing the Town and its taxpayers to incur the costs of defending a suit.  On August 2, the Town Board adopted a ban on all energy development.  In the wake of that action, on September 14, it was reported that an energy company will be filing suit against the Town.


On September 15, yet another lawsuit was filed by a landowner group in the Town of Middlefield, challenging another ban.  Thus there will be two test cases in the New York State courts determining whether towns exceed their authority when they zone away all choices of their residents to develop the energy potential of the land they own.


DSEC co-founder and attorney Henry S. Kramer said, “We alerted the Dryden Town Board of the dangers of a ban and the legal risks they were taking.  Yet, they chose to go ahead and, sadly, as a direct result of their decision, the taxpayers of the Town of Dryden will now be forced to pay taxes to defend their precipitous action.  Had they protected the Town’s finances and prudently waited, the test case would have come, as it has, in Middlefield, or elsewhere, and saved the taxpayers of Dryden thousands in legal costs a time when real wages are falling, food costs rising, and many residents are finding inflation means their paychecks buy less, even if they have a full time job.”


Kramer added, “Unfortunately the Dryden Town Board overreached and wrote a zoning regulation so sweeping in its scope that new homes to be constructed will be barred by its terms from storing natural gas or propane in tanks on their premises or installing pipe lines to hook up to existing natural gas lines.  They also claimed a right to preempt the United States Constitution by claiming that Dryden Town ordinances are superior to and override both state and federal law and authority.”