SALEM - City Council voted this week to turn down a zoning amendment that would have restricted shale drilling within city limits.
Council agreed that the issue should be returned to the Rules and Ordinance Committee after Councilwoman Cyndi Baronzzi Dickey explained that council has no legal authority to restrict the drilling which is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Natural Resources through state level legislation. She said she believed passing the amendment would leave the city vulnerable to lawsuits that could cost the city significant money.
She added that if council was passing the amendment only as a statement that may never be acted upon, then the amendment is a "waste of time and effort, and a little misleading to the citizens of Salem."
Other council members indicated that the message behind the amendment is to let people know that drilling won't take place just anywhere and agreed that it may be better related as a statement through a resolution, not a law.
The amendment would have restricted drilling to industrial sites in the city.