In June, city council on a tie vote rejected a proposed moratorium on accepting land-use applications for oil and gas development in the city.
One faction of council that included Mayor Karen Weitkunat saw the proposed moratorium as unnecessary because new applications for oil and gas development in the city were nonexistent. Council members Wade Troxell and Aislinn Kottwitz shared the mayor's stance.
Mayor Pro Tem Kelly Ohlson and council members Ben Manvel and Lisa Poppaw supported an eight-month moratorium, citing a desire to study the health and environmental impacts of fracking during the hiatus.
In the five months since council rejected the original moratorium proposal, the city has not received any land-use applications such a moratorium would have applied to, so Weitkunat maintains her stance that revisiting the question is unnecessary because new oil and gas development within the city is not imminent.
"There is no threat," the mayor said. "Why would we heavy-hand something?"
Poppaw favors a six-month moratorium on oil and gas development to allow the newly elected Democratic majority in the House of Representatives to craft the direction of local control over energy development from which the city can take its cue. It is widely presumed that with Democrats in control of both chambers of the Legislature, municipalities will gain expanded discretion over oil and gas development within their borders than the previous Republican majority in the House would have allowed.
"It makes sense to have as much information from the state as we can possibly get," Poppaw said. "Then we can move forward with what we need to do."
Where council stands on fracking depends largely on which of its members are in the room. Councilman Gerry Horak was absent for the June vote, and Weitkunat and Kottwitz were not present when Poppaw seized the opportunity last month to direct city legal staff to draft a new moratorium proposal.
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