Withdrawn challenge clears way for Mount Pleasant to get share of natural gas fee
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HARRISBURG -- Officials in Washington County's Mount Pleasant will soon be receiving the sixth-largest check from drilling impact fees of any Pennsylvania municipality, after a challenge to their local ordinance was withdrawn.
Resident Tony Pawlosky had filed a request last month asking the state Public Utility Commission to review Mount Pleasant's drilling ordinance.
Under the state's new Marcellus Shale law, the commission must determine whether local rules conflict with state oversight of the gas industry. Those deemed out of compliance are ineligible to receive their share of annual state drilling impact fees.
In his request for review, Mr. Pawlosky said local provisions attempting to regulate setbacks and water impoundments were not permissible under the new state law.
But in a letter dated Oct. 17, he wrote that township officials have since become "willing to change their stance on drilling operations" and that he was rescinding his review request.
Township officials and Mr. Pawlosky could not be reached Tuesday afternoon.
Withdrawal of his request means the township will soon receive a check for its share of this year's impact fee dollars, totalling $511,855.78, PUC spokeswoman Jennifer Kocher said Tuesday.
Checks to most other municipalities were mailed last week. Three other towns with pending ordinance reviews -- South Fayette in Allegheny County, and Cecil and Robinson in Washington County -- also did not receive checks.
The PUC ruled last week that South Fayette's ordinance conflicts with state law, making the town ineligible for fee dollars unless it makes revisions.
The towns under review are part of a lawsuit against the new drilling statute. A Commonwealth Court hearing in that case is scheduled for this morning to determine whether the PUC is allowed to continue reviews while an appeal is pending.
First Published October 24, 2012 12:00 am