The Cecil Township meeting room Monday night was filled with supervisors, MarkWest representatives and approximately two dozen residents who again discussed compressor stations in the township—but again no resolution was reached.
Many of the same issues that monopolized past public hearings again surfaced with no resolution offered. This was the fourth hearing regarding the zoning of compressor stations, which was again continued.
Perhaps the largest item in the ordinance preventing the board of supervisors from finally being able to adopt it is the proposed allowable setback from other properties.
In its current form, the ordinance calls for a setback of 1,500 feet from the property line of a protected structure. Christopher Rimkus, associate counsel for MarkWest, argued that this would leave nowhere for the industry to build.
“Has anybody bothered to look at 1,500 feet from an adjacent property line? I don't think there is anywhere in the township you could actually build one,” Rimkus said. “What other industrial use anywhere in the state requires you to have a setback of 1,500, so you'd have to have 200 acres to build on. How is this legitimate?”
The board also discussed having different setbacks dependant on whether the compressors are powered by gas (which would be 1,500 feet), or electric (which would be 500 feet). They also debated whether setbacks should be from property lines or actual structures.
For property owners such as Michelle Stonemark and her family, this distinction could leave them in closer proximity to one of these stations than they'd like. Stonemark's family owns 26 acres, but they have yet to build on the property.
According to Supervisor Tom Casciola, there is only so much it can do as a board to protect the taxpayers of Cecil.
“The state law doesn't allow us to save everybody, just flat out,” Casciola said.
Stonemark said that while she does understand his point, she is disappointed that she is one of those unable to be protected.
Another issue that was of concern to at least one resident was how the emissions give off from any compressor stations could negatively impact the air quality at local schools. Resident Karen Yuhaschek-Trest has children at four different schools close by and would like to see air-quality monitoring done, despite the 2,000 feet setback established for schools.
Again, Rimkus argued that this was unnecessary. He claimed that despite giving Cecil a model ordinance last August or September—and being told at past meetings that supervisors would take a look—the company's input has not been taken.
“I feel this ordinance and these setbacks backslide from where we were talking a long time ago. I don't think we have gotten any closer to coming up with a good ordinance," Rinkus said. "For instance, last time we were here I said I'd be glad to put in some comments so you could consider comments from industry about some of the things, and I never got a copy of it."
Supervisor Mike Debbis instructed Zoning Officer Bruce Bosle to make the discussed changes to the ordinance, pass it on to Solicitor John Smith to be reviewed, and then asked Smith to pass it along to Rimkus and MarkWest to review and submit suggestions based on industry needs and standards.
Another public hearing to discuss this matter has been scheduled for August 1 at 5:30 p.m.—before the board's regular monthly meeting at 7 p.m.