Rostraver commissioners: Railroad must get zoning board approval
ROSTRAVER TOWNSHIP — The board of commissioners are demanding that an Ohio-based railroad company get special permission from the township's zoning hearing board before moving forward with reopening a railroad spur to transport potentially flammable by-products from gas well drilling operations.
Officials from the spur owner, Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway Co., attended a public informational meeting the commissioners held last month to address residents' concerns about the plan to operate the site along Finley Road.
Wheeling & Lake Erie wants to have Centennial Energy LLC, of Denver, Colo., supervise loading and transportation - or "transloading" - of a liquid propane and butane mix generated from gas drilling operations at part of a 130-acre site behind the former SuperValu building.
To extract natural gas, drillers inject water and chemicals at high pressure into the ground to fracture the Marcellus shale layer and release the gas.
The process is called "fracking."
Frac sand used in the gas well drilling could also be transported from the railroad spur site.
The materials can be transported to and from the site by truck or train.
Officials from the railroad company agreed to meet with the public amid a stalemate between the company and the township commissioners.
The commissioners have said that, according to township laws, the railroad company must obtain a special exception from the zoning hearing board in order to reopen the spur.
Wheeling & Lake Erie President Bill Callison said at the informational meeting that the company is federally regulated and claimed that trumps the need for township approval.
Callison claimed it's unreasonable to require Wheeling & Lake Erie to obtain a special exception in each community when strict federal safety requirements apply.
He said federal oversight "is pervasive enough that you do not have to go to the zoning hearing board."
Callison said if the township continues to demand a special exception, "then we would have to go to a federal court and federal court would refer us to the Surface Transportation Board and it would be very expensive litigation for both of us."
At the commissioners' meeting Wednesday, the board unanimously approved requiring a special exception.
"We finally said we're going to go by our ordinance," Martin said. "Our ordinance says you have to go before the zoning hearing board. We're telling them that they have to. That doesn't mean that they will. They may preempt us and take us to federal court, or they make back down. I don't know."
In other matters, the commissioners:
• Accepted the resignation of Solicitor Timothy Maatta, of Rostraver Township, who served as the township's legal counsel for the last 10 years.
The commissioners named attorney Al Gaudio, who works with Maatta, as the replacement.
• Moved police officers Martin J. Palla and Stephen J. Crawford to full-time status because they completed a probationary period.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins acquire defensemen Lovejoy, Cole in deadline deals
- Power play shines in Penguins’ home victory over Blue Jackets
- Pirates starting pitcher Worley is in right place, right time with team
- Icy roads bring numerous accidents in Western Pa.
- Penguins forwards struggle in loss to Avalanche
- No tag for Worilds; Steelers cut Moore
- Teacher conduct under spotlight in Pennsylvania
- Pirates sickened by pic of ‘Jihadi John’ wearing Bucs ball cap
- Passion for speed fuels Ligonier man’s slippery dash in winter rally
- Greensburg pair jailed in convenience store robbery
- Starkey: In defense of Mel Kiper Jr.