New York State has enshrined in its Constitution the principle of ‘home rule’ — the right of local communities to determine their community character through control over land use decisions. Communities that prize their rural character and pristine natural resources have enacted safeguards against the onslaught of industrial shale gas extraction, which threatens to devastate the landscape and waters and upend the quiet, rural character of their towns. The Town of Middlefield was one of the first in New York to enact a ban on all heavy industry, including shale gas extraction, and was subsequently sued by Cooperstown Holstein Corporation which contends that Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law prohibits towns from doing so. Judge Cerio of the New York Supreme Court upheld the Town of Middlefield’s zoning law in early 2012, and the decision was appealed.
On May 2, 2013 the New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division found that the Town of Middlefield zoning law would not be preempted by the statewide Oil, Gas, and Solution Mining Law, ruling in favor of Homerule and ensuring that Middlefield, and other towns, will be able to execise zoning laws in order to protect their community character. The court likewise upheld the similar zoning law in Dryden.
Here you will find the briefs filed by plaintiff and defendant in the Supreme Court and Appellate Court, as well as amici curiae briefs filed by environmental and non-profit groups, legal experts, and upstate small businesses.
Cooperstown Holstein Corporation, Petitioner
- Cooperstown Holstein Reply Brief, January 11, 2013
- Cooperstown Holstein Corp. Preemption Appellate Brief, October 12, 2012
- Cooperstown Holstein Memorandum of Law for Summary Judgement, October 28, 2011
- J. Huntington Affidavit, October 28, 2011
- Sovas Affidavit, October 28, 2011
Town of Middlefield, Respondent
- Town of Middlefield Respondent Brief, December 21, 2012
- Town of Middlefield Supplemental Memorandum January 20, 2012
- Town of Middlefield Cross-Motion for Summary Judgement, December 2, 2011
- NY Businesses in Support of Home Rule Amicus Brief, Tooher & Barone LLP, December 12, 2012
- NYFarm Bureau Amicus Brief in support of Plaintiffs, October 3, 2012
- America Petroleum Institute Amicus Brief and Motion in support of Plaintiffs, October 16, 2012
- Business Council of New York, Clean Energy Growth Now, National Association of Royalty Owners, NARO-NY and the Joint Landowners Coalition of New York Amicus Brief in support of Plaintiffs, October 17, 2012
- Brief of Environmental and Non-Profit Amici in support of Defendants, December 7, 2012
- Town of Ulysses, Amicus Brief in support of Defendants, December 10, 2012
- Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, Amicus Brief in support of Defendants, December 10, 2012
- Law Professors Vicki Been, et al, Amicus Brief in support of the Town of Dryden; Norse Engery v Town of Dryden, December 10, 2012