April 21, 2014

Middlefield Court Confirms Prior Decision: Local Land Use Authority Not Preempted

Another victory for our side.  As predicted, Tom West’s “smoking gun” legislative history memo does NOT change the court’s decision – communities may use zoning to ban fracking. – Helen Holden Slottje

In its decision, the New York State Supreme Court concluded that “…local municipalities are vested with the authority to either permit or prohibit oil, gas and solution mining or drilling, within their geographical jurisdiction.”

CLICK HERE to read the full June 19, 2012 decision, which can be summarized as follows:

Cooperstown Holstein, the plaintiff, made a “motion to renew” to the court which decided the Middlefield case, claiming that “newly discovered” information came to its attention after the case was decided by that court and. therefore the court should revisit its decision and decide it in its favor this time around. In other words, this is not the appeal of the Middlefield case to a higher court but a request to the original court to change its decision because of the “new ” information.

But the court rejected this request saying that the legal basis for reconsidering its earlier decision was not satisfied. First, because the attorney could have waited to secure this “new’ information and didn’t when she brought the case initially (a memorandum that the plaintiff believes supports their interpretation that local land use authority was superseded by the ECL 23-0202 provision) and, even better, that the memorandum doesn’t support plantiff’s case even if it were to be considered by the court. The court repeats that the legislative history does not support the contention that the State law was meant to disenfranchise local land use authority. So the lower court is holding by its original decision.