BELLEFONTE — The Centre County Election Board is considering how to word a referendum on the November ballot that seeks to ban natural gas drilling in Ferguson Township.
Members of Groundswell PA have filed a petition seeking to amend Ferguson Townships home rule charter by adding a community bill of rights, which they say will protect the local environment.
Groundswell, the group behind a similar movement last year in State College, has collected enough signatures to place the petition on the November ballot.
Ferguson Township resident Jeff Kurland, a member of the group, filed the petition with the county. The group aims to protect drinking water and air by preventing new natural gas drilling sites in the township.
A similar bill of rights was approved last fall by State College voters. Ferguson Township officials, however, have already said they plan to challenge the petition in court.
Meanwhile, the county Election Board made up of the county commissioners are debating just how to word the referendum.
Kurlands initial proposal asked that a short summary appear on the ballot. Full copies of the petition would be available at each polling place.
Ferguson Township officials, however, are asking that a comprehensive description of the proposed amendment be placed directly on the ballot.
Township solicitor Lewis Steinberg said he is concerned Kurlands proposed wording would not sufficiently inform voters.
Supporters of Kurlands plan said they appreciate the importance of informing voters. But they said lengthy wording could discourage some from taking the time to read and vote.
The commissioners ultimately decided to table the discussions until later this month.
Ferguson Townships plan to bar the petition didnt come up during the meeting. Manager Mark Kunkle said the move has nothing to do with whether the Board of Elections approves the question for the ballot.
Kunkle said he anticipates the township will file an injunction with the county Court of Common Pleas, asking it to determine whether the ballot question is constitutionally valid.