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Drilling too close for some Allegheny Township residents

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By George Guido
Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014, 12:56 a.m.

Concerns by some Allegheny Township residents over natural gas drilling near properties likely will lead to town hall meetings with energy companies, township officials say.

Resident Robert Taylor told supervisors on Monday night that a Consol Energy natural gas well 1,100 feet from his home on Watson Road could lead to structural damage to his home or foul his well water supply with drilling wastewater.

A township ordinance passed in 2010 prohibits drilling 1,000 feet from a house, making Consol Energy's proposed well location legal. But company officials are willing to meet with residents on the issue.

Township officials will try to set up a meeting for Sept. 3 at the Allegheny Township Community Building and hope that Consol officials will be available that night.

Supervisors on Monday also entered into an agreement with EQT Production Co. for natural gas and oil extraction from beneath two 25-acre sites owned by the township — one on Finnin Road, the other on Bagdad Road.

No drilling equipment or well will be constructed on township property. The gas will be extracted from EQT wells on nearby property.

The township will receive 18 percent royalties.

The contract has some residents concerned, including Patricia Hagman, who opposes drilling “going on in our backyard.”

Mike Czynski from Bopland Services of Bridgeville attended on Monday and told residents that the public relations person for EQT couldn't make Monday's meeting but she is “willing to do a special town hall meeting” to hear residents' concerns.

No meeting date from EQT was established.

‘Hero' lauded

• Allegheny Township Police Chief John Fontaine issued a heroism citation to a passing motorist who ran to the aid of a man whose pickup truck crashed on Aug. 1.

Caleb Moore, 30, of Indiana, Pa., broke out the truck's back windshield and pulled out the driver prior to the truck catching on fire. A First Commonwealth Bank employee, Moore was on his way to an event at Hill Crest Country Club when he came upon the accident scene.

“I'm sure were it not for Mr. Moore,” Fontaine said, “the outcome might have been more tragic.”

In other business

• The township hopes to be debt free by the end of 2016.

A program started in January 2010 has put the township on more solid financial footing, according to Township Manager Greg Primm.

The strategy included making double payments on debt each month.

The township has paid off the debt on the Copeland Road bridge project and the public works building.

The debt on the police station has been reduced from $1.5 million to $777,000, which is the same amount the township owes for improvements to the township building.

Also, there was no need for the township to take a tax anticipation loan this year — the first time that has happened for many years, according to officials.

• Bill Cogley of the Allegheny Township Volunteer Fire Co. said trading in older vehicles and rearranging the fire hall's interior has led to savings of “hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

Cogley said residents are invited to tour the fire hall on Tuesdays, the department's meeting night.

George Guido is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.

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