Mt. Pleasant supervisors reject impoundment agreement
More than 50 Mt. Pleasant Township residents crowded into the municipal building Thursday for a special meeting regarding four water impoundments operated by Range Resources.
Karen Mansfield / Observer-Reporter
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Mt. Pleasant supervisors Thursday turned down an agreement proposed by Range Resources that included closing one impoundment and converting the Stewart impoundment into an above-ground holding facility.
Supervisor Larry Grimm made a motion to approve the agreement, but supervisors Bryan Smith or Arden McCartney did not second the motion.
According to the plan, Range would immediately close the Carter impoundment, located off Fort Cherry Road, and would close the freshwater Cowden and Clingerman impoundments within three and five years, respectively.
The Stewart impoundment would be used to store waste water in above-ground, enclosed storage tanks capable of holding 10 million gallons of water.
Range Resources first made the offer in September as a compromise to end ongoing zoning board hearings that began when the township issued notices of violation to Range’s four impoundments. The proposal included a clause that would have required the township to retract its notices of violation and recognize the nonconforming status of the impoundments. The township maintains Range violated zoning ordinance by failing to restore the impoundments after completing all nearby frack wells.
In June, Range filed notices of appeal regarding the notices of violation the township issued, and the appeals are pending before the Mt. Pleasant Township zoning hearing board.
A hearing before the zoning hearing board will be held, as planned, Tuesday at the township fire hall.
In October, Range Resources filed a conditional use application for the approval of the Stewart impoundment.
More than 50 residents crowded into the township building Thursday, and many voiced concern about potential health risks from the contents of the waste water.
“I think there is an equitable agreement that could be reached, but I don’t feel it’s in these papers. I don’t feel these papers serve us well,” said resident Jane Worthington, referring to the five-page agreement.
Worthington said residents who have attended every meeting and public hearing regarding the agreement have made it clear to supervisors they do not want the impoundments operating in the township.
Range Resources spokesman Matt Pitzarella said, “This is a head scratcher. We believe that we provided the township with a proposal that best suited the needs of the community by minimizing potential inconveniences and maximizing the economic benefits for residents. It would have cost Range more money, but we felt like we had the proposal that reflected all of the feedback we received. Unfortunately, this is a decision that forces otherwise unnecessary legal costs for taxpayers.”
Smith said the agreement lacked enough specific information for supervisors to make a decision.
Initially, McCartney and Smith indicated they would recuse themselves from voting on the agreement because of a potential conflict of interest. McCartney has a lease with Range Resources and Smith owns property adjacent to the Carter impoundment. However, the state ethics act permits both to vote if a majority is unattainable without their votes, as long as they disclose their possible conflict.
According to Smith, Range Resources representatives notified supervisors last week that if the agreement was not approved, the company would proceed to use the Carter impoundment to hold wastewater from fracking.