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King George County seeks public input on proposed ordinance on fracking

After a year of review, King George County officials have finished drafting an ordinance that addresses fracking, and they’re now seeking input from residents.

A public hearing on the amended zoning ordinance–and the addition to the county’s Comprehensive Plan–will be held Sept. 1 in the board room of the Revercomb Administration Center.

The new ordinance doesn’t prohibit hydraulic fracturing, the process of injecting water and chemicals deep into the ground to free trapped gas and oil.

But the proposal would make it difficult for drillers to set up shop in King George–and supervisors have said that’s precisely the point of the restrictive language.

For instance, fracking wells would have to be at least 1,000 feet from any public road, occupied building and resource protected area, such as rivers and creeks, in the county. Under that restriction, wells could be drilled on only 4 percent of King George land.

The draft ordinance also spells out the county’s “strategies” regarding drilling for natural gas or oil. Protecting the safety of residents and water is key, but the industrial traffic associated with the practice also is addressed.

The website, dangersoffracking, estimates that each gas well requires an average of 400 tanker trucks to carry water and supplies to and from the site.

In related news, Philly fracking company doubles in Houston.

King George County’s proposed ordinance would “discourage industrial traffic in rural, agricultural and residential areas.” That’s pretty much everywhere in the county, except for commercial areas where gas drilling wouldn’t be allowed by zoning anyway.

There wasn’t any discussion of the proposed amendment during Tuesday’s King George of Supervisors meeting. But the board and Planning Commission have been debating the wording of the proposal since the supervisors asked for a new ordinance a year ago.

Some commission members favored an outright ban on drilling for natural gas in May, after Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said in May that localities had the authority to prohibit fracking.

But the planners eventually agreed with the philosophy expressed by the supervisors, that King George would risk litigation if it became the first county in the region to test the waters with a ban.

“If we were to do that, we’d paint a big target on our backs,” Planning Commission Chairman Josh Colwell said in May.

King George is one of five counties in the Taylorsville basin, an area east and south of Fredericksburg. Shore Exploration and Production Corp., a Texas company, has leased 84,000 acres in the localities for possible drilling and has an office in Bowling Green, but hasn’t filed any applications for drilling.

The other counties in the Taylorsville basin are Caroline, Essex, King and Queen and Westmoreland. King George is the first of the group to amend its zoning ordinances in wake of the drilling proposal.

This article was written by Cathy Dyson from The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, Va. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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