Washington County's Robinson delays permit decision for gas drilling
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Range Resources-Appalachia LLC of Cecil is applying to drill the Marcellus Shale on two properties in Robinson, Washington County.
Plans include natural gas wells on a Midway-Candor Road farm and on a Valleyview Road site owned by a resident who has challenged the township's drilling regulations.
Township supervisors held a public hearing Nov. 20 on plans to drill up to six gas wells -- with three drilled initially -- on 168 acres owned by Micheale F. Parees and Robert M. Frame.
The residential-agricultural property on Midway-Candor Road is near Quicksilver Golf Club.
Supervisors voted 3-0 to continue the hearing to Dec. 10, despite an objection from the gas firm's attorney, Shawn Gallagher of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC in Pittsburgh.
Supervisor Brian Coppola said he wanted to see a detailed site plan and more consistency in the conditional-use application.
The township's decision will be due within 45 days of the end of the hearing.
Also Dec. 10, a public hearing will be held on an application for a well pad on Valleyview Road, on property owned by Rodger C. and Susan C. Kendall. At the request of Range Resources, supervisors last week approved delaying that hearing until next month.
In August, the leaseholder, Mr. Kendall, had requested that the state Public Utility Commission review the township's ordinance.
"As a landowner residing within Robinson Township, I believe that enforcement of the current municipal ordinance has prevented the development of oil and gas from taking place," Mr. Kendall wrote.
The commission subsequently examined Robinson's regulations for compliance with the statewide Marcellus Shale law, known as Act 13, and the state moved to withhold the township's share of drilling impact fees.
But in late October, a Commonwealth Court judge halted the PUC's municipal ordinance reviews, and Robinson received an impact fee check Nov. 19 for about $225,000.
Robinson is among towns challenging Act 13. The lawsuit is being considered in the state Supreme Court.
Last week, about 30 people crowded into Robinson's small meeting room for the 80-minute hearing on the Parees gas wells, but no one from the audience spoke during the public comment period.
John Smith, the township attorney, said the planning commission had recommended supervisors address the application with respect to potential noise issues, zoning requirements and how water is transported to the property.
Adrian Markocic, a Range Resources public affairs specialist, said water would be stored offsite and transported via trucks and a pipeline.
At its peak, the project would generate five to 10 truck trips per hour--or up to 240 trucks per day -- during six days of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in three wells, he said.
The truck route would be Route 980 to Beech Hollow Road to Candor Road to Midway-Candor Road to a 1,700-foot-long access road on the drilling site, Mr. Markocic said.
Site construction this spring would take at least four to six weeks, then drilling three wells would take six to nine weeks, he said.
From 2008 to 2011, gas companies -- including Range Resources, Atlas Energy/Chevron and Chesapeake Energy -- drilled at least 37 gas wells in the Marcellus Shale in Robinson, according to state Department of Environmental Protection data.
In other business, Terrance Love has joined the Robinson board of supervisors. In October, Mr. Coppola and vice chairman Mark Brositz accepted Russell Dysert's resignation and appointed Mr. Love to the seat through 2013.
Mr. Love has served on the township planning commission for at least five years and remains a member. He works as a transportation manager for The Anderson-DuBose Co. based in Lordstown, Ohio.
Also, supervisors voted 3-0 last week to approve a $530,900 preliminary budget for 2013 that holds the property tax rate at 15 mills. The annual donation to the McDonald and Midway fire departments was increased by $2,500 each. Final budget adoption will be Dec. 10.
The $225,000 gained from drilling impact fees was not included in the budget. Mr. Coppola said most of those funds probably will be used to extend public water lines in the township, where about 75 percent of residents rely on well water.
First Published November 29, 2012 5:12 am