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FirstEnergy puts power line project in Marshall, Pine, Franklin Park on hold

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Wednesday, Aug. 14, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
 

James and Barbara Stack chose to build their home on a 4-acre parcel in Marshall in 1978 because of all the lush vegetation in the area, which was once home to a nursery.

Now, James Stack is worried a FirstEnergy Corp. subsidiary's plan to build an 8.2-mile electric transmission line from Franklin Park to Pine will disturb the tranquil landscape of his Mingo Road home.

“If they run the transmission line past my house and on my side of the road, they'll be cutting down 60 80-foot-tall white pines on my property,” he said. “If I don't agree to it, they'll take it by eminent domain.”

He and other residents were upset when Akron, Ohio-based American Transmission Systems Inc. announced in May that it planned to start construction of the power line in 2015. The company recently announced that the start of the project will be delayed by at least two years, spokesman Mark Durbin said.

American Transmission Systems plans to install a 69,000-kilovolt line connecting substations in Pine, Marshall and Franklin Park to enhance the system's reliability as demand grows from customers of Penn Power, also a FirstEnergy subsidiary, Durbin said.

The line will be built on new and expanded rights of way along Wexford Run, Mingo, Wexford Bayne and Nicholson roads. A 5.5-mile section of line between substations in Franklin Park and Marshall will exit the Marshall substation to the west, cross Interstate 79 and run parallel to the highway south to the Franklin Park substation.

Some Marshall residents object because of the potential negative impact to their homes and property, especially because the company was seeking a 60-foot right of way that would require the removal of vegetation, Marshall Manager Neil McFadden said.

Marshall officials sent a letter dated June 27 to FirstEnergy asking the company to put the line elsewhere. They suggested state game land in Marshall, an idea that fell flat with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, McFadden said.

Township officials are unhappy they learned about the project from a resident who received a letter from FirstEnergy in May, he said.

“This project was knocking at our door, and we had no prior knowledge of it,” McFadden said.

American Transmission Systems Inc. representatives had hoped to discuss residents' concerns at a public meeting that was scheduled for Wednesday, but the meeting was canceled because the project's postponement, Durbin said.

FirstEnergy told Marshall officials that financial matters put the project on hold, McFadden said.

Durbin said it made sense to postpone the project once the company looked at budgets and input from property owners who could be affected.

Franklin Park Manager Ambrose Rocca said he expects residents to object if the project moves forward.

Between 2000 and 2010, the populations of Pine, Marshall and Franklin Park increased 27 percent to 31,882, according to the Census Bureau. Pine's population increased about 50 percent to 11,497.

FirstEnergy doesn't expect issues to arise by not installing the power line in 2015, Durbin said.

“We think we're good for the foreseeable future. But down the road, we'll probably have to revisit this,” he said.

Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662 or tparrish@tribweb.com.

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