SOLON — Residents passed an ordinance Saturday at Town Meeting banning the practice of hydraulic fracturing — fracking — but they did so without the passion and long discussion of last year’s meeting, when the idea first was raised.

The vote Saturday was 32-12 in favor of an ordinance banning the practice. The measure was drawn up by the Planning Board at the request of last year’s Town Meeting voters.

The vote was a cautionary one, residents agreed, approved just in case ground conditions or drilling methods change in the future.

“It’s a preventative measure, to have something in place prior to it actually happening,” resident Lisa Caldwell said. “It’s a pre-emptive measure.”

The ordinance now prohibits hydraulic fracturing in the town for the purposes of oil and gas exploration, but residents agreed that the geology of the area does not support such exploration.

Fracking is a process of drilling into the earth and directing a high-pressure water mixture at the rock to release the shale gas and oil inside. Water, sand and chemicals are injected into the rock at high pressure, which allows the gas to flow out to the head of the wells.

“There’s no need of it here,” Solon geologist Allyn Foss told the meeting of almost 50 people, adding that he would be concerned more with unintended consequences of fracking when used for developing drinking water wells, rejuvenating septic systems or remediating contamination in the event of a petroleum leak or spill.

Foss also acknowledged that he understands people’s concern and “wouldn’t want one of the horror stories occurring in my backyard.”

Before the vote was taken, residents wondered whether a resolution — not an ordinance — could be voted on, establishing that Solon was taking a stand against the practice.

Elaine Aloes, chairwoman of the Board of Selectmen, said a resolution would “have no teeth” and if residents wanted to ban fracking, then an ordinance was the only way to do it.

Frank Ridley, who first raised the issue of banning fracking last year, admitted that the chance of “striking oil or gas in this area is very slim,” but he cautioned residents to pass the measure anyway.

Others stood to agree with Ridley, saying they wanted to protect the town’s drinking water and that “anything can happen” in the future.

Aloes was re-elected Saturday, unopposed for a three-year term. Michael Foster was re-elected, unopposed for road commissioner, as was Leslie Giroux for town clerk and tax collector; and Deron Whittemore for a three-year term, also unopposed, on the School Administrative District 74 board of directors.

The final municipal budget to be taken from taxation, after using money from surplus and considering state revenue sharing, was $493,406, down about $8,300 from last year.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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