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McCandless residents express their opposition for fracking in North Park

MCCANDLESS, Pa. — It’s the question buzzing around town: Is North Park being tapped as a target for fracking? The answer is complicated.

“This oil and gas development use is already permitted in the institutional district with the code that’s on the books right now,” said Planning Director R.J. Susko.

And yes, the area affected by that code includes North Park — and it has for a decade.

McCandless Town Council is now working to strengthen its oil and gas ordinances to fight back and keep fracking out of McCandless.

That includes amending the ordinance regarding oil and gas development to include about 20 more pages of strict measures for noise, air and water pollution.

Under state law, the town of McCandless needs to provide a site where oil and gas development can take place. North Park is one of the only options that’s located away from the town’s booming commercial and residential development.

“That’s the target I think the industry is going to go after,” said Larry Schwelger of McCandless. “Let’s not kid ourselves. There’s a 3K-acre piece of real estate there.”

And while no developer has reached out to the town about oil and gas, neighbors are doing their due diligence.

“What can we do to protect the park?” said McCandless resident Deb Sagon. “If drilling were to take place is North Park, how much say would anyone have over noise, pollution?”

Some who have been fighting for decades say they’re not backing down.

“It’s very important these ordinances pass because it’s protection for our residents,” said McCandless resident Mary Ann Love.

So why not just ban fracking in McCandless altogether? The president of McCandless Town Council says it’s just not that simple. Putting up a legal fight against the oil and gas industry could end in bankruptcy for the town, he said.

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