February 23, 2018

DCS Analysis of Leased Land in Damascus Township, Wayne County, PA Still Relevent


Here we are going back a decade, with the pro-drilling minority calling names and distorting the reality of property ownership, who actually pays the taxes, and for that matter, the moral, ethical, and in PA the legal responsibility for the health and well being of all those, current and future, who live, work and visit the Delaware River basin.

DCS has hard evidence that the pro-drillers are a minority, that people who don’t want drilling pay the majority of the local taxes and that a substantial portion of leased property is owned by out-of-towners!

All this in 85 square mile Damascus Township. Nothing like hard data to counter those spurious claims – same as those made in 2008.

Property rights do not include the right to pollute and contaminate.

DCS Original Research:
A Statistical Analysis of Ownership, Leasing and Taxes in Damascus Township

The Reality of Leasing and Ownership in Damascus Township – a much more complex situation – not what you have been told.

In this report you will find an analysis of hard data on the owners of land in Damascus Township and where they live, in reference to leasing for gas drilling; including looking at unique owners, parcels, acreage and tax assessments. Information in this report comes primarily from two sources; The Citizen’s Voice Newspaper’s gas leasing database for leasing in Lackawanna, Luzerne. Wayne, and Wyoming Counties (http://citizensvoice.com/news/drilling ) and tax information for Damascus Township purchased from the Wayne County Appraisers Office. Additionally, we have consulted other sources including the Wayne County Land Use Study (http://www.co.wayne.pa.us/?pageid=74 ). In order to minimize any errors, we have compared our numbers, wherever possible, to those reported in additional sources. “Resident” is defined as having the tax bill for the property sent to an address within the township. “Unique owner” category takes into account that some owners own multiple parcels.

Read Full Report Here
Download the Lease Map Here

Conclusions of the Report

The Northern Wayne Property Owners Alliance has spread false information as propaganda on numerous occasions, stating that those who have leased for gas drilling are the significant majority of landowners, when their actual percentage is only 33% in Damascus Township. Additionally, they have portrayed themselves as the backbone of the tax-base, even though that small minority, which owns a significant majority of the land in the Township (69%), barely amounts to 39% of the township’s tax revenue. NWPOA, or its members, portray those opposed to this development as “outsiders”, “the minority”, “carpetbaggers”, “obstructionists”, “antis”. In reality, the primary resident owners who have leased for gas drilling, only comprise 24% of the total number of actual land owners, who pay taxes, on their homes, and land, in the Township. Additionally, a significant percentage of the leased acreage (26% of the Township) is owned by non-resident owners. So the total picture that begins to emerge from this data analysis shows that NWPOA has totally distorted the existing facts.

NWPOA also portray the potential industrialization of our rural residential community as an economic boon, based on expectations of great wealth being acquired by those who have leased (both resident and investor). Though the scope of this report only includes a look at the particulars of who has leased and where they live, the economic assertions that Damascus Township will greatly benefit from gas drilling within its borders are suspect in themselves- see references below. Also, based on the actual numbers in this report of who has leased and where they are resident, the numbers clearly indicate that if there is an economic boon it will only benefit a small minority of taxpayers, who pay a minority of the taxes within the community.

A study on what has happened in counties in the US West that have had gas/oil as their major economic base