Type of Protective Zoning: Overlay Districts

Overlay districts are one of the ways you can protect your community by addressing where fracking activity goes.

What it is

An overlay is a special type of zoning district with distinct provisions that are unique to that area and are then laid on top of the existing zoning districts.   

For example, a township might want to preserve the historical nature of its downtown. If the township implemented a Historical Resources Overlay it would impose additional rules on development. Those rules might be a requirement that renovations to be done in a way that retains as much of the original structures as possible, or that new structures adhere to common aesthetics found within district.

Within the overlay district there may be several types of other uses, so residential and commercial districts alike would be held to these stricter standards. If your area is a good candidate, a Natural Resource overlay or Historical District overlay can be an excellent way to ensure that fracking does not threaten the valuable resources of your community.   

However, the use of overlays cuts both ways. In one case in Penn Township, a Mineral Extraction Overlay was implemented over a large portion of the township. This meant that fracking was allowed in more areas than it might have otherwise been.

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