Traverse City Record-Eagle

Other Views

January 3, 2014

Another View: Court ruling provides equality in zoning

A state Supreme Court ruling related to shale gas operations sends a larger message:

The commonwealth needs to be consistent with the zoning rules it establishes.

Several municipalities filed suit against Act 13, the state law that establishes assorted rules for shale gas drilling operations.

Among other things, that law took away local authority to establish zoning standards for drilling. Essentially, drilling could take place anywhere in a municipality — even a residential area — so long as certain distance rules were obeyed.

But by a 4-2 vote, the Supreme Court said Act 13 went too far in denying local government the opportunity to set rules for drilling in terms of land use and zoning. This means that every municipality in the commonwealth with a zoning ordinance can now establish its own standards and prohibitions for drilling.

Whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing undoubtedly depends upon one’s point of view. But basically, we believe local governments ought to be able to set their own zoning standards.

And that’s because they are allowed to do so where other types of business activities are concerned. We have no doubt that drillers may now face more restrictions and confusion in the commonwealth if new zoning roadblocks are created. But that’s the way things work in Pennsylvania with its strong nod to local control.

Granted, all powers vested to local governments come via authority of the Legislature. So one could argue a state law has the ability to cancel out zoning rules.

But the court noted that the whole purpose of zoning is to create predictability and consistency in land use and property values. Act 13’s language tossed that concept aside for a system that made things easier for drillers.

So what happens now? The results will be a mixed bag, and a muddled one in many parts of Pennsylvania. Some municipalities will opt for tough restrictions on drilling, responding to public demands. Elsewhere, other local officials will make few changes.

Text Only

Facebook
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Associated Press Video
Big Weekend For Atlanta Braves In Cooperstown - @TheBuzzeronFox Chapter Two: Becoming a first-time director What's Got Jack Black Freaking Out at Comic-Con? Doctors Remove 232 Teeth From Teen's Mouth Bradley Cooper Explains His Voice in 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Deja vu: Another NYPD officer choke-holding a suspect 'Fifty Shades of Grey': Watch the Super Sexy First Trailer Now! Reports: Ravens RB Ray Rice Suspended For 1st 2 Games Of The Season Air Algerie plane with 119 on board missing over Mali Diamond Stone, Malik Newman, Josh Jackson and others showcase talent Free Arturo - The World's Saddest Polar Bear A Look Back at Batman On Film Through The Years LeBron James -- Dropped $2k On Cupcake Apology ... Proceeds To Benefit Charity Snoop Dogg Says He Smoked Weed at the White House Raw: Fight Breaks Out in Ukraine Parliament Chris Pratt Interrupts Interview To French Braid Intern's Hair Shirtless Super Mario Balotelli Dances While Ironing - @TheBuzzeronFOX Whoa! Watch "Housewives" Star Do the Unthinkable LeBron apologizes to neighbors with cupcakes Justin Bieber In Calvin Klein Underwear Shoot