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Cathy Dyson writes about King George County.

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Sisson: ‘No general support’ in county for fracking

For the first time Tuesday, several King George supervisors expressed public opinions on the controversial topic of fracking.

Supervisor Ruby Brabo first asked fellow board members in February to approve a resolution passed by other localities in the Taylorsville basin. The resolution asks the state to conduct an additional study on the risks involved with fracking, or hydraulic fracturing.

Essex County passed the resolution in March, followed by the town of Kilmarnock and Westmoreland County.

The resolution asks the governor, secretary of commerce and trade, and secretary of natural resources to complete a joint report that looks at environmental, transportation, economic and regulatory issues pertaining to oil and gas drilling in the Tidewater region.

The study would be in addition to an environmental impact assessment gas companies have to pay for, as part of their application to drill. Brabo asked for the resolution to be brought up again, after the county held a town-hall meeting in June about fracking.

King George Supervisors Joe Grzeika and Dale Sisson Jr. said last night they viewed the resolution as a request to bring the fracking process to the county that much sooner.

Grzeika said he wasn’t interested in expediting the process, and Sisson’s words were even stronger.

“I don’t want to pass something that looks like we’re asking for the process to move quicker,” Sisson said. “There’s no general support for bringing this kind of function to King George County. We’re looking to tighten our ordinances to control this as we see fit.”

Grzeika said he didn’t want to “prevent or induce fracking,” but to “get our land-use ordinances in place to make sure, if it ever comes here, we’ve thought through what we want and what conditions we want in place to protect our community.”

The board agreed to ask the General Assembly to include the impacts of gas drilling in a study.

Supervisors also plan to pick up a second fracking-related discussion that started in January. That’s when County Attorney Eric Gregory told them that county ordinances pertaining to gas drilling are vague and need to be updated.

Current ordinances deal with exploratory drilling only, not production of wells, Gregory said. He suggested the ordinances be updated, and board members agreed it would be good to get the Planning Commission involved.

But the board has never discussed what regulations it wants planners to review. Supervisors decided on Tuesday to include that topic in an upcoming meeting that’s already packed with items.

The work session will be held at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 21 in the board room. In addition to fracking regulations, the supervisors will talk about capital improvement plans, including the needs for new and renovated fire and rescue stations. They’ll also discuss the tourism budget and School Board spending.

The work session is open to the public, but residents will not get an opportunity to comment.

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