Type of Protective Zoning: Limit Fracking to Industrial Zones

Creating a minimal acreage is a possible way to protect your community by addressing where fracking activity goes.

Categorize fracking activity as an “industrial use”

Many places do not expressly state what type of ‘use’ they consider fracking activity to be when they develop their zoning plans. If fracking is not assigned a specific use then the gas company can (and often does) plead the case that fracking activity is compatible with almost any type of existing use. This is one way that residential or suburban areas end up with drilling pads and other infrastructure so close to schools and homes.

One easy way to amend your zoning language is to explicitly include fracking as an industrial (or heavy industrial) use. That way, fracking will generally be limited to areas that a resident would expect to experience the loud noises, odors, vibrations, traffic, etc. associated with fracking activity.

Places with that type of language

  • Richland Twp
  • South Fayette
  • South Strabane
  • Monroeville - Changed their ordinance to allow gas wells only in M-2 industrial zoning district, whereas it was previously allowed as a conditional use in all districts.
  • Bell Acres - Oil & Gas surface activities are limited to a Conditional Use within the M-3 zoning district.
  • Oakmont Borough - Unconventional natural gas wells listed as a "purely industrial use."

Additional Thoughts

This may be one of the most direct and most effective ways to protect your community from the harms associated with fracking. If you live in an area that is highly resistant to creating lengthy ordinances which address fracking activity, this could be the most productive place to concentrate your efforts.

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