WILKES-BARRE — A utility proposing to build a natural gas pipeline through the Brookside neighborhood is considering proceeding with the nearly $3 million project without an easement to locate the infrastructure on city property.
UGI Penn Natural Gas Inc. was prepared to pay the city $10,500 for the permanent easement detailed in a resolution for approval by city council nearly two months ago. But a spokesman for UGI Utilities Inc. said the company instead is evaluating whether it can go ahead with the project with a street opening permit issued by the city.
“We will not proceed until we have a determination on this question,” spokesman Joe Swope said Thursday.
The proposed route is the same one presented to council for approval at its April 24 meeting. Swope said the route was chosen to bypass as many houses as possible. The existing line that utility representatives said has reached the end of its economic life passes many more houses. The line does not serve customers in the area. It would be capped to make it dormant and left in place.
The resolution was not voted on in order to allow the city to make changes regarding the setback or distance from the line at which permanent structures or buildings must be located.
At the June 12 meeting assistant city attorney William Vinsko said the utility can proceed without approval from council. He explained that the state’s Business Corporations Law gives the utility permission to install the line wherever it needs to put it.
A call to the city attorney’s office was not returned this week.
The proposed 14,000-foot line follows a route along the base of the Brookside levee that runs parallel to Brookside Street and ends at the intersection of Spring and Pine streets in the city’s East End. Swope said the 12-inch pipes transporting the natural gas will be “methodically protected” similar to the one the utility has installed in other projects.