Proposed Oil and Gas Ordinance Update 4/25/2019
(click here to view update)
We are appreciative of the many thought-provoking comments we have received over the past months from citizens of Franklin Park. We wish to make special note and thanks to the Protect Franklin Park group for the excellent paper “Report and Recommendations” surrounding this issue. Borough Council is committed to keeping residents informed as the oil and gas ordinance goes through the review process.
At the Planning Commission’s March 19th meeting, discussion of this ordinance was not on the agenda. However, the Planning Commission heard public comment at the conclusion of the meeting.
At Borough Council’s March 20th regular meeting, Council opened a Public Hearing to inform and obtain public comment on this ordinance. Borough Council announced at the outset of the Public Hearing that it would not vote on the ordinance that evening. Special Counsel Amy Sable presented the ordinance, and Council received public comment. Borough Council then moved to continue the Public Hearing to its May 15th regular meeting.
At the Planning Commission’s April 19th meeting, the Planning Commission reviewed the ordinance, received public comment, and then moved to table further discussion until its May 14th meeting (note the rescheduled date due to election day on May 21st). It is the role of the Planning Commission to provide Borough Council with specific recommendations regarding the terms of the pending ordinance. It is expected that the Planning Commission will provide Borough Council with its recommendations by May 30th. If necessary, a special meeting of the Planning Commission advertised in accordance with the Sunshine Act will be held to meet this schedule.
At Borough Council’s May 15th regular meeting, scheduled to begin at 7:00 PM, Borough Council will re-open the Public Hearing commenced on March 20th. Public comment will again be taken. Because this is a continuation of the Public Hearing and the ordinance has not been substantially changed at this time, the Pennsylvania Municipalities Planning Code does not require that residents who spoke on March 20th be permitted to speak again on May 15th. Borough Council has decided to waive this provision. However, we respectfully request that those who spoke at the March 20th public hearing limit their comments to new information.
Borough Council will not be voting on this ordinance at their May 15th meeting. It is expected that the Public Hearing will be closed. Borough Council will subsequently meet to review this pending ordinance and consider the comments received. When discussing possible revisions, Council will consider the recommendations received from the Planning Commission, comments from residents at the Public Hearing, the report submitted by the group Protect Franklin Park, as well as other input received via various communications and meetings with residents.
If Borough Council decides that no material changes are to be made to the pending ordinance, then Council will duly advertise a Notice of Intent to Enact for a vote to occur at a specified regular meeting.
If Borough Council decides that material changes will be made to the ordinance, then the review process will essentially start over. The revised ordinance will be prepared and formally re-introduced as early as Borough Council’s June 19th regular meeting; it will be re-submitted to Allegheny County for review and comments; it will be re-submitted to the Planning Commission for recommendations; and a second Public Hearing will be properly advertised and held at Borough Council’s August 21st regular meeting. As part of the re-introduction process, Borough Council may elect to place the revised ordinance into pending status at its June 19th regular meeting.
As long as the adoption process continues at a reasonable pace, the ordinance is considered to be in pending status and the regulations remain in effect. The real impact of pending status is that, during the review and adoption process, approximately 92% of land within Franklin Park is protected from a drilling company submitting a conditional use application to construct a well pad. While the remaining approximately 8% of land (referred to as the overlay zone) is subject to a potential conditional use application, the requirements that must be met for an application to be approved are stricter than the terms that were in place prior to the pending ordinance going into effect.
Further updates will be provided as warranted. As always, residents are encouraged to contact Borough Council members, the Mayor, or Borough staff with questions and comments.