Second group of property owners challenging Sunoco pipeline project

August 20, 2015
A map of the proposed Mariner East pipeline

A second group of landowners who face property losses to Sunoco Pipeline of Pennsylvania for its Mariner East project is fighting back.

In July, Sunoco filed eminent domain documents in Washington County Court seeking land in Mt. Pleasant, Independence, Chartiers and Hopewell townships and West Middletown. If the petitions are granted, Sunoco would permanently acquire 11 acres.

Filing documents in Washington County Court on Monday seeking to stop Sunoco’s efforts were landowners Rodney Lee and Robin Louise Rohrer of 108 Poplar Road, Avella; John Paul Craig, Frank Stewart Craig and Timothy David Craig of 638 Country Road, Avella; Harry Joseph and Patricia Marie Yevins of 136 Fox Road, Avella; and Edward J. Thomas III and Bonnie W. Thomas of Dairy Road, Mt. Pleasant Township.

Hershey-based attorney Mike Faherty, who represents the landowners, said he feels confident efforts to stop Sunoco will be successful. Faherty represents several groups of landowners fighting Sunoco, and said in July that visiting Senior Judge William R. Nalitz stopped Sunoco’s efforts to condemn the property of Martha J. and Cary Dwayne Cowden, Paradise Hills LLC and Kenneth Lee and Ann Marie Taylor. A hearing for that matter was set for Oct. 14.

“I believe we will have a similar outcome as the other cases,” he said.

Faherty is arguing that Sunoco does not have the jurisdiction for eminent domain and that the company should be following guidelines set forth by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission because the pipeline operates within several states.

Sunoco has asserted since 2002 that it has been regulated by the state Public Utility Commission as a public utility, a status it said the PUC reaffirmed both last year and this year.

It would be easier for Sunoco to use eminent domain as a public utility.

In 2012, Sunoco announced the Mariner East pipeline project for “wet” gas products such as propane, ethane and butane, designed to relieve the oversupply of natural gas liquids in the Marcellus and Utica Shale basins and to alleviate supply-side shortages of propane and related products in parts of Pennsylvania and the Northeast. The finished pipeline would stretch between Washington County and Twin Oaks, Delaware County, in the Philadelphia metropolitan area.

A representative from Sunoco Logistics declined to comment.

Francesca Sacco joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in November 2013, and covers the Washington County Courthouse and education. Prior to working with the Observer-Reporter, Francesca was a staff writer with a Gannett paper in Ohio. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor’s degree in print and broadcast journalism.

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