Before I continue talking about oil and gas, I want to briefly mention the part of the Solar Energy Systems ordinance that does not allow solar panels on the fronts of houses. If the front of a house faces south, the optimal direction for the placement of solar panels, the language of this ordinance unfairly and unnecessarily discriminates against the homeowner by prohibiting him or her from installing solar panels where it makes the most sense to place them. I hope the commissioners will see fit to change that wording and allow solar panels on all sides of a structure.
Getting back to the drilling ordinance, it is a vast improvement, but it could be better. It still allows surface drilling on properties zoned R-2 Multifamily Residential. Granted, the 100-acre minimum requirement for a well-pad is a great improvement. The setbacks are... okay... But given that a PA Common Pleas Court judge last year struck down a well pad for being 3,000 ft. from a housing development, there is legal precedent for making your setbacks at least that distance, if not greater.
Or you could get surface drilling out of R-2 zones altogether. It's been stated that you're worried about state requirements for “reasonable access” to resources; yet the state, as in the state Supreme Court, in its rejection of Act 13 zoning, repeatedly stated that shale-gas drilling is an industrial use that is incompatible with residential land use. A number of legal actions across the state regarding residential drilling will soon be headed to the courts; depending on how the courts rule, local approval of residential drilling may be declared unconstitutional, and if you continue to permit drilling in R-2 zones you may have to change your ordinance yet again to be in compliance with that ruling.
Finally, I would remind the commissioners that, according to the PA Municipal Planning Code, the primary function of zoning is not to promote industry, nor to ensure the financial viability of private contracts entered into between landowners and corporations, but to promote and protect the health, safety and welfare of the community and its residents by placing compatible land uses together and keeping incompatible land uses separate.
In summary, this ordinance could be made a lot better, but even as it is, it is a GREAT improvement. I encourage you to tweak it and then approve it. Thank you.