Mt. Pleasant Township rejects Range Resources appeal

January 13, 2014
Karen Mansfield / Observer-Reporter Mt. Pleasant township zoning hearing board members Barry Johnston, right, and Ron Stewart, middle, talk with residents following the zoning hearing board meeting Monday.

The Mt. Pleasant Township Zoning Hearing Board voted unanimously Monday to uphold notices of violation issued by the township’s zoning officer against four impoundments owned by Range Resources.

Zoning hearing board members Barry Johnston and Ron Stewart rejected Range’s appeal to the notices of violation.

The board has 30 days to present a written decision to Range.

Range attorney Shawn Gallagher expressed disappointment with the board’s decision.

“It’s disappointing, but we’ll have to evaluate our options when we see the written decision,” Gallagher said.

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

The Marcellus shale drilling company contends that all four impoundments – Stewart, Klingerman, Cowden and Carter – are legal nonconforming use, and made a proposal to the township to end the ongoing zoning board hearings that began when the township issued notices of violation to Range’s four impoundments in July 2013. Supervisors rejected the proposal in November. Three of the impoundments are used for fresh water storage, while the Carter impoundment holds wastewater.

Stewart thanked residents for “staying with this process all the way through.”

“We weighed through a lot of information; it was not an easy decision to make,” said Stewart. “Clearly, Range Resources and MarkWest are in this community for a long period of time. They made a large investment in infrastructure. We need to find a way as a community to work together and to be more open and honest with each other. I think, personally, that we’re open to reviewing any proposal that Range Resources or MarkWest may have that is consistent with our zoning laws and would consider accessory uses and other things in the future, if they’re done according to the right process. This whole thing is kind of disturbing the way it snowballed … I think this is an opportunity to start fresh.”

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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