North Strabane Planning Commission to vote on well pad

August 27, 2013

North Strabane Township Planning Commission will be permitted to vote on a Range Resources application for what would be the first well pad in the township. After three of the four commission members who were present at the meeting last Monday abstained from voting because they have leases with the natural gas company, township solicitor James Jeffries investigated the matter to determine if it would be appropriate for them to vote.

Jeffries said at the board of supervisors meeting Tuesday that none of the commission members with a Range lease would be personally or monetarily affected by this proposed vertical well pad, which would be constructed on property owned by Christy Gas Co. on Christy Road.

“If you’re voting on a matter that affects your land personally, affects your pocketbook personally, you’d have to recuse yourself,” Jeffries said, “but just because you have a contract with Range, I don’t see a problem with it.”

Jeffries noted commission members should still exercise caution and announce when they have a contract with any entity with which the township is considering an agreement.

Robert Balogh, chairman of the planning commission, was the one member at the meeting last week who does not have a lease with Range. Commission members Harold Close, Katharine Stayduhar and Marcus Staley have leases, and Bill Franczyk was absent.

A resident on Christy Road asked during a public comment period whether drilling would be disruptive for residents who live near the proposed well pad. Township manager Frank Siffrinn said it likely would not be bothersome and that he was told by Range representatives that drilling would only last two weeks.

“The impact on Christy Road will not be as great as what I think people anticipate because this is not horizontal fracking or horizontal drilling that is going on,” Siffrinn said. “It’s going to be a vertical drill, so you’re not going to see the type of the equipment nor the weight of the equipment that’s traditionally used in horizontal drilling.”

A public hearing regarding the proposed well site on Christy Road is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 17 prior to the start of the board of supervisors meeting in the municipal building.

Supervisors also tabled a vote on a potential oil and gas lease agreement between the township and either Rice Energy or Range Resources on township property. The supervisors went into an executive session to further discuss the matter.

Emily Petsko joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in June 2013. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor's degree in journalism and global cultural studies.

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