Mt. Pleasant supervisors table agreement with Range Resources

Zoning hearing board meeting also postponed

October 7, 2013
Mt. Pleasant Township supervisors Larry Grimm, left, and Bryan Smith, middle, listen as solicitor Bill Johnson reads a proposed agreement between the township and Range Resources regarding the fate of four impoundments. - Karen Mansfield / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Mt. Pleasant Township supervisors voted unanimously Monday to table a proposed agreement with Range Resources regarding four water impoundments operated by the natural gas drilling company.

The proposal included some modifications to a resolution Range proposed Sept. 28, which supervisors unanimously rejected, but still calls for closing the Carter impoundment and converting the Stewart impoundment into an above-ground holding facility.

Range’s new proposal calls for the Cowden and Clingerman impoundments to be decommissioned and reclaimed within three and five years, respectively, and limits the use of the Cowden impoundment to the development of wells withing the township and adjoining municipalities.

The Carter impoundment is a facility that recycles water used in the hydraulic fracturing pocess, while the Cowden and Clingergman impoundments are used for fresh water storage.

Supervisor Bryan Smith said he is opposed to moving a nonfresh water impoundment from one area zoned A-1 to another A-1 area.

The township maintains the position Range violated the township zoning ordinance by failing to restore the impoundments after completing all nearby frack wells.

“We issued these violations because they were in an A-1 area in the first place,” said Smith. “It may be best for a certain group surrounding the Carter impoundment as it is today, and it may be good for the people in the fresh water compoundments that may be going away within five years, but how is it fair for us to take it awway from a zoned area that we feel isn’t allowable for that and putting it in the exact same zoning area in the other end of town?” asked Smith.

Supervisors Larry Grimm and Arden McCartney said they don’t believe an area zoned A-1 is the best place for the impoundment, but believe it’s the best solution.

“The Carter impoundment is my impetus for doing this,” said Grimm. “These people have been living with that toxic waste dump down there along time. That’s why I pushed for this settlement that we have.”

Smith contends that the township is simply transferring the problem from one area to another.

“I don’t feel we have all the information we need tonight to make a decision,” said Smith.

About 40 residents attended the meeting, and several voiced their belief that the impoundments are more suited for an industrial zoned district, not and A-1 district.

Supervisors also postponed a zoning hearing board meeting related to the impoundments that was scheduled for tonight.

Range attorney Shawn Gallagher agreed to delaying the zoning hearing meeting, but said the company has provided the township with all of the information it would need to make a decision on the proposal.

“This is the solution we put forth, and we think it’s a very good one,” said Gallagher.

Karen Mansfield is an award-winning journalist and mom of five who has been a staff writer for the Observer-Reporter since 1988. She enjoys reading, the Pittsburgh Steelers, a good glass of wine and nice people.

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