Local resident and zoning officer to speak at American Planning Association
Hughesville resident and recently appointed deputy director for the Lycoming County Planning and Community Development, Kurt Hausammann, Jr. will be a panelist and guest speaker at the annual American Planning Association on Oct. 3 to Oct. 5 in Lancaster, PA. He will be talking about alternative and renewable energy, planning and zoning related to the Marcellus Shale gas drilling operations.
His proficiency on the topic has him being quoted in various media as an expert on the subject when it comes to zoning. “But we are still learning. It is an evolving process through the courts as to what we can do as far as land use and planning,” replied Hausammann. He said that it is a state decision in the Commonwealth Court to upheld the right of the municipality to regulate the oil and gas industry through zoning. “This is not a final decision and could be appealed to Supreme Court,” he said. Last year the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that local governments may not enact specific ordinances targeting gas drilling operations. But Hausammann believes it can be done through zoning. “If you don’t have zoning, there’s nothing you can do.”
He estimates that more than half of the state land in Lycoming County is leased for natural gas drilling and possibly three fourths of private land is leased.
Hausammann was featured for a cover story in April’s American Agriculturist magazine and also a featured speaker in July for web based seminars at Penn State on “Natural Gas Development Land Use Controls in Lycoming County.
He gives an overview of land use planning strategies as shale gas exploration intensifies in our region.
“We have to have balanced regulation,” he added. “We can’t stop the industry but at the same time we can’t destroy our quality of life either.” He advises that residents seek as much education as possible on the industry, both good and bad.
Lycoming County is centrally located for the energy companies and will be using our resources to stay here and commute to the neighboring counties like Bradford and Tioga where the vein for Marcellus is up to 900 feet thick, six times thicker than Lycoming County according to County Planning and Community Development. “Lycoming County is still in the infancy stages,”said Hausammann. “We will begin to see more pipe storage yards, trucking companies, transporting companies, warehousing offices, transient lodgings, plus administrative and regional offices similar to what Chief Oil and Halliburton have already established.
If a land owner has more than 40 acres within the Marcellus Shale region, Hausammann highly recommends consulting with an attorney to provide a negotiable lease agreement.
A Muncy native, Hausammann has spent ten years with the County Planning Office and three years as director.