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Sanford Fracking Gag Order Lifted

The Town of Sanford has done an about-face when it comes to public comment on fracking this in the face of a lawsuit.

Sanford had prohibited verbal public comment on the topic, instead limiting comment to written submissions to the town board.

The Natural Resources Defense Council and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy brought suit as a result, saying the prohibition violated the right to free speech.

Sanford passed an ordinance last week allowing spoken comment and Thursday the two environmental groups dropped their lawsuit.

"You can talk about barking dogs but you can not speak about fracking. And that was very unsettling to us. So we are just delighted that now perhaps we can return to open government and have a discussion on the real facts," said Sanford resident Mary Colvard.

Al Millius, an attorney who represented Sanford, said the town decided the cost of fighting the suit outweighed the benefit. The new ordinance does give the board the option of limiting comment from any person to three minutes.

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