Proposed referendum would give Allegheny County voters input on natural gas drilling in parks

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An Allegheny County councilman with a reputation for taking long shots will launch plans Tuesday night to have voters decide whether the county should open park land for natural gas drilling.

Matt Drozd, R-Ross, says he'll introduce a resolution at Tuesday's council meeting requiring the board of elections to run a referendum question in May 2014, asking voters if they want to be consulted before the county authorizes drilling beneath a county park.

If that question passes, Mr. Drozd's resolution would amend the county charter to require voter approval through referendum every time the county wants to lease park land for drilling.

Referendums typically require signatures from registered voters numbering 5 percent of the turnout from the last gubernatorial election. If the referendum seeks to modify the county charter, as Mr. Drozd's does, that requirement jumps to 10 percent, according to state law.

Dozens of protesters have signed up to speak at county council's meeting, opposing plans to drill beneath Deer Lakes Park. Though drilling is not on the agenda and no formal request for drilling

proposals has been issued, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has signaled his intention to drill there and possibly elsewhere.

Amie Downs, Mr. Fitzgerald's spokesman, said the administration does not support Mr. Drozd's measure and believes such decisions should be taken on a case-by-case basis.

breaking - region - marcellusshale

Andrew McGill: amcgill@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1497.


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