Natural gas zoning hearing continued
HICKORY, Pa. – The Sept. 10 Mount Pleasant Township Zoning Board enforcement hearing on Range Resources’ impoundments was continued until 7 p.m. Oct. 8 at the Mount Pleasant Township Community Center located at 20 Wabash Ave.
The township sent a notice to Range in July to close and restore three freshwater impoundments and a recycled water impoundment after the well pads nearest them stopped producing.
This is the second continuation of the hearing, which began Aug. 13. It was originally continued because, after several hours of discussion, township residents had not yet been heard.
The second continuance was requested by Range Resources attorney Shawn Gallagher, who said a former employee Range wanted to present as a witness was unavailable because of a health issue.
Attorney Dwight D. Ferguson, who represents families living within several hundred feet of the impounds, protested the extension, noting the witness was not originally scheduled to testify and Range Resources should not be allowed to continue to build their appeal while the hearing was continued.
“The hearing could have ended last month, and they wouldn’t have this witness,” said Gallagher.
Ferguson asked if Range had additional witnesses and whether they were present. Gallagher intends to call several witnesses, but they were not in attendance.
There was a disagreement over whether Ferguson had standing, on behalf of his clients, at the hearing. Ferguson contended his clients have a vested interest in the hearing because of their proximity to the impoundments.
Gallagher maintained only the township and Range Resources have standing because it is an enforcement hearing, and only the township’s zoning board and zoning officer can enforce its zoning ordinances. He added the residents have legal remedy through the Court of Common Pleas.
Ferguson countered, while only the township could initiate an enforcement hearing, Range Resources’ operation of the impoundment directly affected the market value of his clients’ properties and they should be heard.
Township Solicitor Bill Johnson had no objection to Ferguson speaking on behalf of his clients, and Ferguson will submit a memorandum arguing his standing before the next scheduled meeting.
(Wallace-Minger can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)