Post-Gazette's 'Sunshine Law' appeal denied in Beaver County

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The Beaver County Common Pleas Court today denied the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s request that deliberations by the New Sewickley Township supervisors on a controversial permit for a Marcellus Shale gas compressor station next to the Kretschmann Family organic Farm be opened to the public.

Beaver County Judge James Ross ruled that the supervisors’ decision-making process on the conditional use request by Dallas-based Cardinal Midstream Inc. is a “quasi-judicial” function and therefore can be done in a non-public executive session and is not governed by the open meeting provisions of the state’s “Sunshine Law,” as Post-Gazette attorney Frederick Frank had argued.

Township solicitor Philip Lope said the supervisors will convene a non-public executive session Thursday evening, after their regular public meeting at the township building, 233 Miller Road in Rochester. The supervisors could make a decision at the conclusion of the executive session Thursday or within 45 days.

Cardinal Midstream has plans to eventually operate eight compressor units on a 12-acre site upwind and 2,000 feet from the organic farm that began operations 35 years ago. It sells vegetables, fruit and herbs to more than 1,000 families in Allegheny, Beaver and Butler counties who subscribe to its Community Supported Agriculture or “CSA” program.

The farm’s owners, Don and Becky Kretschmann, argued before a crowd of more than 300 people at a public hearing held by the supervisors July 23 that the compressor station will compromise the rural and agricultural character of the township located 25 miles north of Pittsburgh. Emissions from the compressors could also damage their crops, they said, and call into question the organic certification of the farm.

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