- Last Updated on Wednesday, 23 April 2014 08:51
- Published on Wednesday, 23 April 2014 08:51
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The King George Board of Supervisors has scheduled a fracking information session for the community on June 12, 7 p.m., at King George High School.
Supervisors expect to have representatives from the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) present, as they did at a meeting on Feb. 4, along with reps from the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Shore Exploration & Production Company and the Environmental Law Center.
The meeting was scheduled for the June 12 date at last week’s meeting on April 15, with Chairman Joe Grzeika saying he also wanted to ask former state delegate Albert Pollard if he would to attend and begin the presentations by giving his fracking overview presentation.
The information session is expected to be a town hall-style meeting, with an opportunity for members of the public to ask questions.
PROCESS TO BE REVIEWED
Grzeika also said the session would include information about the county’s process for obtaining a special exception permit, which is required for any mining operation in the county.
Special exception permits require two advertised public hearings, first one by the Planning Commission and the second by the Board of Supervisors in King George.
In regard to the June 12 date, Grzeika said, “By that time we’ll have some feedback from the regional commissions about reaching out to look at the land use from a county perspective.”
The actual permit for such mining is approved by the state and the environmental aspect is likewise controlled by the state’s regulations.
Grzeika added, “If they’re permitted by the state, we want to have our special exception permit requirements articulated so we protect ourselves as much as we can from the industrialization of our rural agricultural community. I think that’s really what our job is.”
Grzeika also said, “Our focus really needs to be sharp.” He added, “I really think from a regional perspective if we came together and get at least a common core of conditions that we could work from, I think it would serve everybody better.”
King George is participating in a local government Fracking Workshop hosted by the Virginia Association of Counties (VACo) in Hanover on May 1. That half-day workshop is designed to cover basic information on fracking and to include state and local government roles and considerations.
The VACo forum is expected to provide information and practical tools that will be useful to local governments when making policy decisions relating to fracking. DMME and DEQ reps are on tap for that forum, along with the Southern Environmental Law Center slated to talk about tools that localities can use to mitigate risks when confronted with a special exception request for fracking.
They are expected to be reviewed in regard to industrial noise, traffic and road damage.
Truck traffic associated with fracking can be excessive, constant, noisy, and disruptive to school bus and commuter traffic, in addition to causing costly infrastructure damage by tearing up roads.
The truck traffic can be generated during all phases of the mining process, including by hauling in machinery and piping during construction, and hauling off sand and fracking fluid at various points. In addition, there is the potential for a lot more truck traffic to haul in water, if hydrofracking is employed, in the case that water it is not taken directly from the aquifer under the industrialized site.
ORDINANCES EXPECTED TO COME UNDER REVIEW
Supervisors had been informed that a review of county ordinances is recommended in order to be in a position to mitigate some of the risks of fracking.
County attorney Eric Gregory had reported in detail to the Board of Supervisors in January on the county’s existing zoning ordinances, saying they address exploratory drilling for oil and/or natural gas by a required special exception permit in the A-1 and A-2 districts.
Gregory said the special exception permit requirements require site plans, ingress and egress plans, drill site plans and erosion and sediment control plans. They also require an environmental impact assessment and operation plan, which must first be filed with DMME and then also filed with a special exception permit application.
In King George, drill sites are currently limited to four acres, with no drill site within 500 feet of an occupied residence.
Gregory had told the board it had the authority to impose additional other requirements if those were incorporated into the zoning ordinance to address noise, dust, traffic impacts, setbacks for drill sites from schools, occupied residences as already included, and churches.
Gregory had also cautioned that the existing county zoning ordinance does not currently address compression stations, but only addresses drilling sites.
That’s because the fracking technology has moved ahead of the county’s ordinance. Compression stations are more often utilized in natural gas drilling, with the county’s ordinance largely addressing exploratory oil drilling in the past.
Gregory also had noted that regulatory rules are complex in terms of the potential zoning regulation possibilities and in regard to potential environmental impacts and there could be other related issues in terms of the influx of residents brought in by drillers, including those having to do with temporary and/or transient residents and their impacts on such things as emergency services, law enforcement, schools, etc.
Supervisors had agreed with Gregory’s suggestion that following their fact-finding, the county’s ordinance should be sent to the county Planning Commission after the board agrees to parameters it would want the Commission to address in regard to amendments to the ordinance.