[HISTORY: Adopted by the Town Board of the Town of Bethel 12-11-2008 by L.L. No. 9-2008. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Seismic exploration is the primary method of exploring for subterranean hydrocarbon deposits. When a survey of the earth's substructure takes place, the waves of sound vibrate underground and bounce back to the surface and are analyzed. Controlled charges of dynamite, thumper trucks, or vibrator trucks are used on land to created the sound waves. Since the thumper trucks and vibrator trucks often operate on local roads and highways, the Town finds that it is in its interests to regulate such activities on Town highways to protect the integrity of the roadways, and the infrastructure thereunder, and to minimize impacts on traffic.
The following defined terms are used in this Chapter 253.
- Any person who makes an application for a permit authorized by this chapter.
- COMPLETION DATE
- The date that the permit holder notifies the Town that the seismic survey has been completed.
- A recording device used in the collection of soundwaves for a seismic survey.
- MULCHING EQUIPMENT
- Any equipment used in the clearing of brush and smaller trees and typically used in the creation of seismic lines.
- PERMIT HOLDER
- A person to whom a permit has been issued pursuant to the requirements of this chapter.
- SEISMIC LINE
- The locations for the distribution of explosive devices and recorders to be used in certain forms of seismic surveys. This term is also referred to as a "source line."
- SEISMIC SURVEY
- The production and recordation of images produced by generating and analyzing sound waves that travel through the earth. It includes any geophysical operation that uses a seismic energy source to generate acoustic waves that propagate through the earth for the purposes of exploration. It also includes any reflection seismology used to map the subsurface structure of rock formations or gather data to map structural traps that could potentially contain hydrocarbons.
- THUMPER TRUCK
- Any vehicle, including but not limited to any weight-drop truck, that emits acoustic waves by dropping a weight to the ground for the purposes of conducting a seismic survey.
- TOWN HIGHWAY
- Shall include any highway located in the Town of Bethel meeting the definition of New York Highway Law § 3, Subdivision 5, and shall include the necessary sluices, drains, ditches, waterways, embankments, retaining walls, rights-of-way, culverts and bridge approaches appurtenant thereto.
- VIBROSEIS TRUCK
- Any vehicle, including but not limited to a vehicle that contains a shaker unit or vibrator, that emits energy signals into the earth for the purposes of conducting a seismic survey.
No person shall conduct any seismic survey, operate a vibroseis truck, or use a geophone on any Town highway without first obtaining a permit under the provisions of this chapter.
No person shall conduct any seismic survey, operate a vibroseis truck, or use a geophone on any Town highway between the hours of 6:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m., Monday through Friday, or on any Saturday, Sunday or national holiday unless a permit issued hereunder expressly provides otherwise.
No person shall operate a thumper truck, operate mulching equipment with the intent to create a seismic line, drill holes for any explosive charge, or use any explosive charges in connection with any seismic survey on or within 100 feet of any Town highway unless a permit issued hereunder expressly provides otherwise.
No person shall conduct any seismic survey, operate a vibroseis truck or thumper truck, operate mulching equipment with the intent to create a seismic line, drill holes for any explosive charge or use any explosive charges or use a geophone in connection with any seismic survey on any private land within the Town of Bethel without providing ten (10) days advance written notice of such seismic survey or related activity to the Town Code Enforcement Officer.
Permits for certain activities. Where a seismic survey is planned to be conducted on any Town highway by any person, such person must secure a permit pursuant to this § 253-4.
Application for permit.
The application shall be on a form provided by the Town Clerk for such purpose, and if no form is available shall contain the following information:
The name, address, and contact information of the applicant;
The name, address, and contact information of any subcontractors who will be performing any work in connection with the seismic survey;
A description of the seismic survey, including a summary of the methodology thereof, and the number of trucks, and their gross weight, to be used in the seismic survey;
A list of the Town highways (or portions thereof) and the length in miles that will be traversed during the implementation of the seismic survey;
A specification of the dates, and hours during each day, that the seismic survey will be conducted;
The identification and contact information of the job foreman or person responsible for the seismic survey and who shall be responsible for ensuring that the implementation of the seismic survey complies with any permit issued pursuant to this section;
A description of any road closures and a plan for diversion of traffic, if necessary, and a description of needed support personnel including flagmen, survey crews, police support, and any other similar persons; and
Any other information that the Town Board may reasonably require.
The application for a permit shall be submitted at least 45 days in advance of the proposed commencement of any seismic survey or related activity.
Permit applications shall be made to the Town Clerk who shall forward each application to the Town Board for review and consideration. The issuance of a permit shall be discretionary and shall be issued only where the Town Board determines that the permit application is complete and that such permit is reasonable and necessary and will allow a seismic survey that is consistent with the requirements of this chapter.
For each permit application, the Town Board shall consider the number of days that the proposed survey will take place, the number of miles of Town roads affected, the potential impact on Town roads and any infrastructure thereunder, the impact of the survey upon traffic, the financial resources of the applicant, and any other factors deemed relevant by the Town Board.
The applicant must post security in the form to be determined by the Town Board and shall be in an amount to cover any potential loss or damage to Town highways or any infrastructure within said Town highways. Said security will be posted in accordance with a written agreement, the form of which must be approved by the Town attorney. Said security must remain in place for six (6) months after the completion date of the seismic survey where the seismic survey is conducted on a Town highway that contains sewer or water infrastructure and for sixty days (60) days after the completion date of the seismic survey on all other Town highways. Within five (5) days of the completion of the seismic survey, the applicant shall notify the Town of the completion date.
The applicant must indemnify the Town to cover any potential loss or damage resulting from the conduct of the seismic survey. In addition, the applicant must provide evidence of insurance, including workers' compensation insurance, automotive insurance, and comprehensive general liability insurance. The limits of coverage for the automotive insurance and comprehensive general liability insurance shall be in an amount as determined by the Town, and the Town shall be listed as an additional insured on each such policy.
The Town Board may include any reasonable conditions in the permit, including but not limited to, a limitation of the term of the permit to a fixed period of time, date, duration and location of the seismic survey. Further, the Town Board may designate certain Town highways upon which no survey may be conducted or upon which certain vehicles are not permitted on the basis of designated weight, designated length, designated height, or in excess in eight feet in width.
Any permit application review shall be subject to the requirements of the State Environmental Quality Review Act and its implementing regulations found at 6 NYCRR Part 617.
If the Town Board fails to rule on a permit application within 60 days of its submission to the Town Clerk, the application shall be deemed denied. The Town Board and the applicant may mutually agree to extend the foregoing time period.
Any permit issued by the Town Board under this chapter may not be assigned to any other party without the express written consent of the Town, which consent may be withheld at the sole discretion of the Town. The issuance of a permit under this chapter shall not confer any drilling or exploration rights to any applicant beyond the scope of a seismic survey.
A copy of any permit shall be provided to the Town Constables and the Building Department for use by the Code Enforcement Officers and inspectors.
Each applicant shall pay a nonrefundable application fee at the time of making the permit application in an amount established from time to time by resolution of the Town Board. Each applicant shall be subject to the payment of the fees and expenses incurred by the Town for the retention of experts and consultants who provide services in connection with any review and advice rendered in connection with any application. The payment of such fees and expenses shall be governed by the procedures set forth in Town Code § 345-7.
Each applicant shall supply to the Town copies of all reports, data, and information gathered or assembled during any seismic survey conducted pursuant to a permit issued hereunder. Said reports, data, and information shall be submitted to the Town no later than 30 days after the completion date, unless the permit shall specify a different time period. An applicant may make written request that the Town withhold public dissemination of any such report, data, and information, provided that it can establish that any such report, data, or information would constitute an exception from disclosure under New York Public Officers Law § 87, Subdivision 2(d).
The Town Code Enforcement Officer, and any inspector designated by the Town Board, may issue a stop-work order to any person who is in violation of any provision of this chapter or any permit issued hereunder.
If a stop-work order issued pursuant to this section is not withdrawn or vacated by the issuer within five business days of its issuance, the person to whom the stop-work order was issued may file a written appeal to the Town Zoning Board of Appeals, unless the permit in question is subject to modification or revocation as provided in Subsection B, below. No work that is the subject of any stop-work order may continue until such time as the stop-work order is withdrawn or vacated by the issuer or the Town Zoning Board of Appeals.
Modification or revocation of permit.
Any permit issued in accordance with this chapter may be modified upon the mutual written consent of the Town and the permit holder or modified or revoked by the Town Board upon 10 days advance written notice to the permit holder. The modification or revocation of a permit can occur upon a finding by the Town Board of a violation of this chapter or any permit issued pursuant thereto. In addition, the Town Board may modify or revoke a permit upon a finding by the Town Board that the conduct of any work pursuant to any such permit causes unanticipated damage to any Town highway, or the infrastructure thereunder, or traffic delays, or if said work is conducted in a negligent or reckless manner that exposes the Town, its citizens, or the general public to potential injury.
Except upon the mutual written consent of the Town and the permit holder, no permit shall be modified or revoked until such time as the permit holder has an opportunity for a public hearing before the Town Board. The hearing shall be scheduled on a date within 30 days of the date of the notice issued in Subsection B(1), above, or at some other date mutually convenient to the parties. The Town Board shall not be bound by the formal rules of evidence. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Town Board shall promptly issue a written decision and serve a copy of the same on the permit holder, who shall be bound thereby. Appeal of any adverse determination hereunder shall be governed by Article 78 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules.
Persons who violate this chapter shall be guilty of a violation and subject to punishment by a fine of not less than $50 nor more than $500 or by imprisonment of not more than 15 days or by such fine or imprisonment or other penalties as may be available under the Town Law or the Penal Law. Each separate violation shall constitute a separate additional offense.