Range appeals Robinson rejection of well sites

March 13, 2013

An oil and natural gas exploration company on Wednesday filed appeals in Washington County Court of Robinson Township’s rejection of its application to establish two drilling sites in the community.

Range Resources claims township supervisors abused their discretion and failed to apply the appropriate legal standards when they denied the company’s conditional use applications Feb. 12 to drill on Rodger C. and Susan Kendall and Robert M. Frame and Michelle F. Parees properties on Foley Road and Midway-Candor Road, respectively, court records show.

The three supervisors unanimously rejected the applications, saying Range provided insufficient documents and failed to comply with criteria set forth in municipal codes, including improper submission of a site plan and failure to demonstrate the operations would comply with noise standards.

The Southpointe-based company’s attorney, Shawn Gallagher, could not be reached Wednesday afternoon.

Pittsburgh attorney Jonathan Kamin, who represents the township in the case, said Range could have easily complied with Robinson’s zoning ordinance “if they were interested in complying.”

“It’s the least restrictive ordinance of any that I’ve seen in the area,” Kamin said.

The rejection, he said, came down to two things. Range didn’t perform a sound study or complete a site plan identifying the roads and buildings in and around the drilling sites.

Matt Pitzarella, director of communications at Range, said the company filed the appeals to protect its rights to do so, even though it expects the issue will be decided under a separate legal challenge on file in Washington County Court.

Three weeks before Robinson rejected the wells, Range asked Washington County Court to approve the permits over claims it had complied with all the legal requirements to begin drilling, Pitzarella said.

He said Range expects the decision on the permits should be decided by a judge assigned to that case.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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