Allegheny County councilman cancels meeting on gas drilling law

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An attorney who challenged Act 13 zoning regulations for natural gas drillers before the state Supreme Court was scheduled to give a presentation today to members of Allegheny County Council's education committee, but the talk has been canceled.

Charles Martoni, D-Swissvale and chair of the committee, said he had a scheduling conflict and added that the talk "seemed so one-sided." He said he has no plans to reschedule it.

The talk was suggested by residents who have spoken publicly to county council against the drilling, Mr. Martoni said.

The agenda for a meeting of the council's education committee was distributed Wednesday and listed as an invited guest Canonsburg attorney John Smith and as the discussion topic a synopsis of Act 13 litigation.

Act 13, parts of which were declared unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court, gave preference to statewide guidelines over local zoning controls for natural gas wells.

Terri Supowitz of Wilkinsburg, a member of the Protect Our Parks group that is opposed to drilling, said Monday that she had organized the talk and that she was "hoping it would be informational."

Barbara Daly Danko, a Regent Square Democrat, said she was "disappointed" that the talk had been canceled because she thought Mr. Smith's experience could be helpful.

Nick Futules, D-Oakmont and a member of the education committee, said the parks committee, which he chairs, would be guiding the debate and discussion process about drilling beneath Deer Lakes Park, and said that county council will consult with its own attorneys.

Kaitlynn Riely: or 412-263-1707.

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