Morris Township and Consol Energy partner for new housing development

October 7, 2015
Consol Energy donated 100 acres near Nineveh that will be used for a single-family housing development. From left are Chuck Shaynak, senior vice president of Consol’s Pennsylvania coal operations, and Morris Township Supervisors Bob Keller, Roger Creech and Glenn Adamson. - Bob Niedbala/ Observer-Reporter Order a Print

NINEVEH – One hundred acres of mostly tree-covered land near Nineveh in the next few years will be the site of one of the first single-family housing developments to be built in the western part of Greene County in many years.

The proposed housing development and partnership that made it possible between Morris Township officials and Consol Energy was recognized Wednesday at the Morris Township Community Center.

During the event, documents were signed in which Consol officially donated the land, situated between Carter Road and Route 18 just north of Nineveh, to the township.

“This is a great example of industry and the local community working hand-in-hand to promote growth and development for our residents,” Morris Township Supervisor Glenn Adamson said.

Consol is now mining in the western part of the township. Its Harvey-Bailey-Enlow Fork mining complex employs 1,600 workers, with another 600 contract employees on site each day, said Chuck Shaynak, senior vice president of Consol’s Pennsylvania coal operations. People understand the importance of the industry to the local economy and for the jobs it sustains, Shaynak said. The mines are now “fully capitalized” and well-positioned to run for the long term, he said.

“In a similar way, these investments in Morris Township demonstrate our commitment to ensuring that the local community shares in the benefits of the energy we produce right here in Greene County and that the township is also well-positioned for growth and progress for the long term,” he said.

Shaynak said the company was happy to partner with the township on the project.

“If you have a vision and are dedicated to that, it’s amazing what you can make happen,” he said.

The township hopes to develop the property into one-half acre parcels with the site possibly enabling the construction of 50 single-family homes. It hopes to be in a position to start construction on the first home in 2020.

What also will help make the project a reality is a sewage treatment system that Consol constructed for a nearby portal of its Harvey Mine that it expanded to serve the 42 houses in Nineveh as well as the expected new housing development.

Supervisor Bob Keller gave a history of the project, which had its start in discussions begun seven years ago and involved county and state elected officials, the county planning department, West Greene School District, Consol and members of the community. He thanked all for their assistance, including local businessman and township auditor Greg Hopkins and EQT, which is now drilling on the site of the proposed housing development and which arranged its work to best accommodate the development.

Early discussions had concluded people “love our portion of Greene County,” Keller said. However, housing was needed for displaced homeowners and those wishing to move here and the area lacked the necessary infrastructure to support housing development, he said.

“There is no place for people to build here,” Supervisor Roger Creech said prior to the event.

People displaced from their homes, some from mining activities, would like to stay but can’t find any place to move or land on which to build, he said.

The lack of housing and people moving from the area has resulted in decreased enrollment over the years in the West Greene School District, Superintendent Thelma Szarell said. Szarell spoke of the importance of the partnership between the township, community, public officials and Consol.

“With everybody working together in collaboration, it’s going to make something possible down the road to have children and families living in this area,” she said.

Keller said the supervisors expect another piece of the puzzle to fall into place when public water is brought to the community as a result of a partnership between Vantage Energy and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Water Authority. He also cited the importance to the township of having Act 13 impact fee money available which it can use to support local projects.

In addition to donating the property to the township and building the sewage treatment system, Consol has donated money for improvements at the community center and property for a new fire hall.

Bob Niedbala worked as a general assignment reporter for the newspaper for 27 years in the Greene County bureau. He received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Pittsburgh.

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