Range Resources appeals Mt. Pleasant’s decision

  • By Emily Petsko March 3, 2014
Mt. Pleasant Township Zoning Hearing Board members Barry Johnston, right, and Ron Stewart, center, talk with residents following the zoning hearing board meeting in January. - Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Nearly nine months after Mt. Pleasant Township Zoning Hearing Board issued notices of violation related to four Marcellus Shale water impoundments, the matter will head to court for deliberation.

Range Resources, which owns and operates the four impoundments, is appealing a Jan. 30 decision by the zoning board that upheld the four notices of violation. Range attorney Shawn Gallagher filed the complaint in Washington County Court Friday.

Range has contended in numerous zoning board hearings that all four impoundments – Stewart, Klingerman, Cowden and Carter – are principal nonconforming uses and thus are permitted within the township. Zoning board members ultimately decided that Range violated township zoning ordinance by failing to restore the impoundments after completing all nearby frack wells.

Range is now asking the court to reverse the zoning board’s decision and conduct a new hearing.

“The factual allegations that formed the basis of the township (notices of violation) have changed because not all of the wells located near the impoundments have been completed,” Range said in its complaint.

The company said it has plans to continue using all four impoundments, three of which are freshwater impoundments. The Carter impoundment is a recycled frackwater facility.

Range said the Stewart impoundment has not been used for completions operations for two years, but the company intends to use it for wells that will be drilled in the township within the next year.

For the other three impoundments, periods of inactivity between operations ranged from three to six months, Range indicated.

Range said in its complaint it would cost the company between $1 million and $1.5 million to close and remediate a single impoundment.

“The overall value of the impoundments, however, is incalculable given the effect it would have upon Range’s planned operations,” Range said in its complaint.

Range expressed its long-term plans for the impoundments and stated there are 19 to 25 wells located within the township on Range’s current drilling schedule.

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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