Range wants courts to force township decision

January 28, 2013
Range Resources filed a lawsuit Monday against Robinson Township to force its board of supervisors to take actions on two well pad applications that have been pending since the fall. - Photo courtesy of Range Resources

Range Resources is asking Washington County Court to force Robinson Township to issue decisions on two gas well pad applications that have been lingering since the fall.

In a lawsuit filed Monday, Range claims that Robinson Township supervisors are deliberately refusing to make decisions on applications to drill on a 167.5-acre parcel owned by Michelle F. Parees and Robert M. Frame and on a 84.38-acre parcel owned by Rodger C. and Susan C. Kendall on Valley View Road in Bulger.

Applications were filed by Range in September. A hearing for the Parees property was held Nov. 20 with a decision due by Jan. 4, while a hearing on the Kendall property was held Dec. 10 with a decision due by Jan. 24, according to court papers filed by Range.

At the township supervisors’ meeting last week, the applications were met with opposition by several residents.

In a letter to the township solicitor and zoning officer, Range attorney Shawn Gallagher wrote, “It is apparent from the township’s conduct that the township is not proceeding in good faith with regard to the administration, review and processing of Range’s applications.”

Range completed three gas wells in the township in 2010 and maintains it has submitted the same requirements this time as it did then.

But Tim McClelland, township engineer, said Range had failed to comply with provisions in the zoning ordinance on site grading and had failed to include a site plan. While Range did submit a sound study, the township believes it does not comply with its noise ordinance.

Range spokesman Matt Pitzarella said the company believes it has given Robinson more than it has provided any other municipality for a drilling site. “It’s (court action) is the last thing we wanted to do, but we were left with no choice,” Pitzarella stated.

Range is not only asking for a decision, but it’s asking the courts to award it damages for money it has lost due to the township’s delay.

Linda Metz has been with the Observer-Reporter since 2000, covering Washington County courts and politics, as well as the city of Washington. She previously was employed by the Tribune Review. She is a graduate of Point Park College, now a university, in Pittsburgh.

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