By SARAH HITE firstname.lastname@example.org
Amid troubling road conditions and an impending ice storm, nearly 40 residents attended the supervisors‚?? meeting Tuesday evening to discuss the potential effects of a proposed natural gas compressor to be built about 1,340 feet from the Dallas School District campus.
Chief Gathering LLC submitted plans to township officials to build a compressor station off Hildebrandt Road. The company is asking for special zoning exceptions because the zoning district does not prohibit or permit the type of structure proposed. The township‚??s zoning hearing board will make a decision on the matter on Feb. 9.
Residents used the public comment portion of the meeting to ask questions of the board about the topic that wasn‚??t even on the agenda. Several attendees fielded concerns about how the decision will be made and what they can do to stall plans.
Solicitor Thomas Brennan replied to many of the questions in a similar manner ‚?? he said the board of supervisors has no control over the outcome of the zoning hearing board‚??s decision.
He said the zoning hearing board can approve the application, approve it with limitations or deny it. He said the facts and data presented to that board are applied to the township‚??s laws, and the outcome will reflect that process.
Brennan also said the company will need to appear before the planning commission, which will determine if the proposed plans comply with the township‚??s land development and subdivision ordinances.
‚??The planning commission‚??s decisions are final,‚?Ě the solicitor said. ‚??If residents are dissatisfied, they can go to the courts.‚?Ě
He said the object of the two appointed boards is ‚??not to say what they themselves want,‚?Ě and they are ‚??duty-bound‚?Ě by the law.
Resident and Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition member Diane Dreier asked Brennan whether the municipal meeting room will hold the number of residents planning to attend the zoning hearing board meeting on Feb. 9.
Several residents stood to the side as she spoke, providing an example of the lack of seats in the room.
Brennan told her that hot button issues in the past have attracted the public in crowds, but the meeting room has always sustained the attendance. He said the decision to hold the meeting in a different venue is also up to the zoning hearing board.
Ben Uzdilla, who lives directly across the street from the proposed site and who is employed in the gas industry, said safety has taken a backseat to productivity in the 34 years he has spent in the business. He said his colleagues totaled 240 when he started, and now there are about 60 due to downsizing.
‚??Safety has suffered,‚?Ě he said. ‚??People want to do more with less. It‚??s a disaster waiting to happen.‚?Ě
Scott Pertl, of Trucksville, also spoke out during the meeting to address what he felt is the most important underlying issue ‚?? the safety of children in the neighboring schools.
‚??It‚??s not just one neighborhood that‚??s affected by this,‚?Ě he said.
Chris Oremus, of Franklin Township, wanted to know how the township‚??s fire and ambulance departments would respond to an emergency if something were to happen at the facility just 1,400 feet away from 2,800 students.
Brennan said the township‚??s emergency management agency, along with the county and state Emergency Management Agency are equipped to respond to emergencies as best they can, and he didn‚??t believe there could be a separate plan in place to handle one facility‚??s potential problems.
Some residents‚?? comments elicited applause from the crowd, and many attendees left shortly after the public comments portion of the meeting concluded.
Resident Norm Tomchak spoke last on behalf of the ‚??thousand of irate people‚?Ě he said are living within the township.
‚??To them, it‚??s a job,‚?Ě he said. ‚??To us, it‚??s home.‚?Ě
In other news‚?¶
‚?Ę Brennan presented the board with a storm water ordinance draft for which a hearing will be advertised and announced at a future date.
‚?Ę A letter was received from Todd Holmes, engineer for Dorchester Development, requesting a reduction in their letter of credit for the Geisinger construction project from $288,898 to $81,728 due to the amount of work completed. A decision will be made after the supervisors receive recommendation from the township engineer.