Drilling, farm noise addressed in Robinson zoning proposal

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Loosened rules for Marcellus Shale drilling are part of a proposed overhaul of zoning laws in Robinson, Washington County.

Supervisors will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. June 2 in Fort Cherry High School auditorium, 110 Fort Cherry Rd., to discuss amendments related to natural gas operations, zoning districts, farm regulations and other issues.

Chairman Rodger Kendall, who joined the board in January, has said he rewrote much of the zoning ordinance with the help of attorney Loretta Kendall, his sister.

In a newsletter set to be distributed to residents, drilling supporters Mr. Kendall and Vice Chairman Stephen Duran said three public workshop meetings in February pointed out problems with zoning regulations such as “a regulatory shut out [sic] of oil and gas drilling,” split zoning of some properties and “unattainable noise standards” on farms.

“The amendments proposed by Mr. Kendall addressed the discovered discrepancies,” according to the newsletter.

Supervisor Mark Brositz said Monday that he disagrees with much of the content of the newsletter. He voted against copying and mailing it—a project estimated to cost about $1,500.

“I feel that there [are] misstatements and lack of a complete story in several of the articles,” Mr. Brositz said.

Mr. Kendall is a leaseholder with driller Range Resources, and Mr. Duran’s father holds a drilling lease.

Township attorney Gretchen Moore said Monday that a letter has been sent to the Pennsylvania State Ethics Commission asking for an opinion on the appropriateness of the supervisors voting on drilling issues.

“Regardless, we can move forward with the hearing because the vote isn’t going to be taken that night,” Ms. Moore said.

Robinson resident Brenda Vance recently presented a petition with 281 signatures asking the board to keep the zoning ordinance intact.

“It’s a drastic change,” Ms. Vance said of the proposed amendments. “Somebody else should be monitoring [drilling] and governing it, not just people who have such a great stake in it,” she said.

The proposal would alter the zoning ordinance and map — including some Marcellus Shale drilling rules — approved in December by Mr. Brositz and former supervisors Brian Coppola and Terrence Love.

The proposal would allow Marcellus Shale well site development on properties 10 acres or larger, including combined parcels.

Well development would be a permitted use in the rural-residential, agricultural, industrial and Interchange Business Development zoning districts,and would be a conditional use in the commercial, single-family residential, general residential and special conservation zones.

Both permitted and conditional uses would have to follow a similar set of procedures and rules, such as submitting development plans, preparing a safety plan, bonding roads and complying with noise, light, fence and dust control requirements.

The proposal also addresses subsurface gas facilities and activities, water impoundments, compressor stations, processing plants, alternative fuel service stations, water recycling facilities, temporary housing for well site workers, mineral excavation and combined cycle gas turbine electric generation.

Andrea Iglar, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

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