Robinson to rule on Range Resources request to drill for gas on Dec. 10

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Robinson Township supervisors heard representatives from Range Resources detail plans for a property off of Midway-Candor Road during a conditional use hearing Tuesday.


The packed, two-hour hearing was part of the scheduled board of supervisors’ meeting. Supervisors had hoped to make a ruling at the end of the meeting but ultimately decided to postpone their final decision to their next meeting at 7 p.m. Dec. 10, citing a need for more time to review additional documents filed by Range.


Range Resources had submitted an application to drill a well site on the property of Micheale F. Parees and Robert M. Frame off of Midway-Candor Road.


Engineers for Range laid out their plans to extract natural gas from the 168-acre property located on top of the Marcellus Shale formation, currently used for agricultural purposes. Range public affairs specialist Adrian Makocic said drilling operations would be beyond 1,000 feet from the nearest residence - the township’s minimum setback distance.


Attorney Shawn Gallagher, representing Range Resources, said the energy company planned to build between three and six wells on the Parees property. If approved, Range would lay down a 1,700-foot gravel access road during a construction period said to last between four and six weeks. The access road would wind from Beech Hollow Road through the property and exit onto Midway-Candor Road. Both entrances would be paved to minimize debris on township roadways.


The proposed well pad would also be constructed of gravel rather than cement and no treatment pond would be built on-site as engineers proposed using the large, green “baker” tanks to store the liquid resulting from the hydraulic fracturing process. Natural gas extracted on the site would be brought to market using an underground pipeline.


During a “staging” phase, establishing tanks would transport 100,000 barrels of water to the site using 700 truckloads over a six-day period. During this period, the well site would receive up to 70 truckloads of water per day and 20 trucks of sand.


Each well would take four to six weeks to construct and the extraction period would last from three to six weeks per well. There would be flare-off operations on the site.


Board members and energy officials could not agree on whether “bunkhouse” trailers on the site to house workers would violate a township ordinance. Gallagher said the lodging was necessary because drill workers would be extracting gases on a 24-hour basis.


Markocic said area emergency personnel would be given an orientation of the site before drilling operations began. First responders would be trained in emergency preparedness at no cost to the township.


It was hard to gauge the feelings of the about 50 residents who filled the township building to capacity. During public comment, no one offered their thoughts despite the encouragement of the supervisors.


Gallagher objected to the board’s motion to reconvene the meeting in December, but supervisors said they needed more time to digest Range’s documents.


“I don’t think it’s reasonable for me to look at this in one day,” said Chairman Brian Coppola as he held the booklet of Range documents entered into evidence - about the size of an encyclopedia volume. “I haven’t looked at this before tonight… If I can read through this and I don’t have any questions” supervisors will vote in favor of the conditional use approval in December.


The board was also scheduled to hear testimony regarding the conditional use application of Roger and Susan Kendall. However, the board granted a request by Range to reschedule the Kendall hearing until the Dec. 10 meeting in order to prepare documents.


Earlier this year, Kendall filed a complaint to the Pennsylvania Utility Commission arguing the board of supervisors violated Act 13 provisions mandating that Harrisburg have final say in zoning regulations, setting off a review of the township ordinance. That review request was later withdrawn.


Supervisors also announced their preliminary budget during Tuesday’s meeting. The Robinson Township 2013 fiscal budget would include revenues and expenditures both totaling $530,899. The homeowners’ tax rate would stay the same at 3 mills. Tax revenues for the municipality were estimated at $378,828 and the township’s greatest expense was the highway fund at $196,171.


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