Category of Protective Zoning: Additional Studies, Increased Notification, and Site Information From State Agencies

Local governments cannot made ordinances that conflict with state regulations.  In Pennsylvania, fracking activity is largely regulated by the Department of Environmental Protection.   Because of this, some local governments may shy away from requiring fracking companies to include additional information related to environmental impacts when they apply for zoning permits.  However, as long as it does not undermine the state minimums it is often times it is not only allowable to supplement environmental analysis but it is recommended as a best practice that local governments should follow.  

Similarly, the Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Code (MPC) sets out minimal requirements that the public be notified at certain points during the process of obtaining a zoning permit.  These requirements are relatively minimal though and often go unnoticed by the larger community. Local governments can require that applicants provide additional notifications the community that go beyond minimal requirements.

In addition to working hard to ensure that your local government is well informed of the potential environmental impacts and that your community is notified of the potential development, you should also ensure that your area is receiving pertinent information regarding the relevant state agency permits, in order to paint a better picture of the total impacts the proposed project may have.

Type of Protective Language: Supplemental Environmental Analysis and Monitoring

Requiring that either the township or the applicant conduct analysis such as baseline water supply surveys - and continuous water quality monitoring - can help local governments mitigate or even prevent potential damage to the environment and community.

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Type of Protective Language: Increased Notification

Having an ordinance which requires the applicant (and not the locality) provide additional notice, beyond what the local government is obligated to do, can help shift the burden from the taxpayers to the applicant, as well as ensure that the community is successfully informed.

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Type of Protective Language: Full Capacity Build-out & DEP Permits

A gas company might not fully disclose the entirety of a project in their applications for land use permits that they submit to your local government. If your local government requires that applications for certain kinds of gas activity include information about the future of the project and the predicted related infrastructure, it is one way to avoid unwelcome surprises down the road.  In addition, if your local government requires that an applicant submit to the township all of the information that the applicant has already submitted to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, it can be a huge help towards getting a better sense of what the entire project will look like in the end.

Read more about Full Capacity Build-out & DEP Permits

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