FRANKLYWNOW - This is Andrea's Test Story - March 2

This is Andrea's Test Story - March 2, 2015

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A local environmental activist doesn't believe that an Ohio Supreme Court ruling will halt efforts to restrict fracking inside Youngstown city limits.The high court ruled Tuesday that the Akron suburb of Munroe Falls cannot use its home rule charter to enforce zoning laws regulating and restricting drilling for oil and gas in the community.The decision upholds an appellate court ruling that found that municipalities cannot hamper drilling that has been permitted by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.A group of citizens have tried and failed four times to have voters approve what they call a Community Bill of Rights that would ban drilling inside Youngstown city limits.Asked if the Supreme Court ruling would hamper any efforts by the group to put the issue on the ballot again, Community Bill or Rights backer Susie Beiersdorfer told 21 News that although she has yet to see the ruling, she feels that the Munroe Falls case is different because it dealt with ordinances passed by a legislative body, and not by a vote of the people.Beiersdorfer says they are looking at possible language changes in the Community Bill of Rights before they decide if an attempt will be made to place it on the ballot again.A noted Youngstown oil and gas attorney feels that the court ruling allows for local control in other situations.“In the last paragraph of its majority opinion, the Court leaves wide open the door to possible broad local regulation of oil and gas development,” wrote Alan D. Wenger in a blog post. Wenger is the chair of the oil and gas law with Harrington, Hoppe and Mitchell.Wenger contends that a close review of concurring and dissenting opinions suggests that four judges lean toward allowing local zoning regulations to apply.Justice Terrence O'Donnell, the apparent swing vote in the case, “in his concurring opinion takes great pains to clarify that that the decision only applies to the five specific Munroe Falls ordinances at issue,” Wenger writes. Wenger continues, “Four of the seven Justices appear to approvingly refer to recent precedent in New York, Pennsylvania and Colorado that allow local zoning regulation of oil and gas development.“Thus, four of the seven justices who heard this case appear to adamantly maintain that state preemption does not apply to local zoning generally, and the whole Court seems to agree that the application of ODNR preemption to local zoning in Ohio remains an open question.

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