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South Buffalo planning commission signs off on revised gas compressor plan

| Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014, 12:36 a.m.

Drilling company Mountain Gathering has proposed relocating a natural gas compressor station that South Buffalo supervisors denied in February.

The compressor station would remain on the McIntyre Farm, off of Ford City Road, but it would be smaller and sit about 1,000 feet away from the nearest home.

The South Buffalo Planning Commission on Wednesday recommended approval of the station, which would compress natural gas to a higher pressure so that it can feed into the Big Pine Gathering System, a large pipeline put in by NiSource about a year ago.

The pipeline transports gas from Butler to Westmoreland County.

Mountain Gathering, a subsidiary of XTO Energy, won a lawsuit in Armstrong County Court that overturned the supervisors' decision.

The ruling allows Mountain Gathering to build the station as it was originally proposed — within 500 feet of homes on Ford City Road.

XTO attorney Shawn Gallagher, with Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, said the most recent proposal includes four compressors and four engines to run them, compared to eight of each with the previous version.

The building that houses the compressors is scaled down, too.

“That's not to say that if things change we won't have to add on for additional compression, but that's unlikely,” he said.

About 100 people came out to two public hearings; nearly all of them spoke in opposition to the company's original plan.

Their concerns were noise, pollution and the close proximity to homes.

“XTO and Mountain Gathering, we do want to be a good corporate neighbor,” Gallagher said. “There were a lot of people upset … and Mountain Gathering heard that and has revised its plan.”

About 25 residents who live next to the McIntyre Farm attended Wednesday's planning commission hearing. They said they still have concerns.

Shari Stull of Ford City Road said she's worried about property values plummeting after the compression station goes in.

“My main concern is the money we have put into our property over the past 25 to 30 years,” she said. “I worked hard for my property, and I want what it's worth.”

Craig and Kristen Chodkowski, also of Ford City Road, were vocal opponents of Mountain Gathering's original plan. Their home is less than 500 feet from the first location.

The new compressor station would be about 1,000 feet away from their property line, but they say the same issues exist.

“They moved it, but the other dangers are still there: sound, pollution and the potential for an explosion,” Craig Chodkowski said.

Gallagher said the company plans to address concerns at the supervisors' public hearing next month about noise and a potential blast radius in the event of the explosion.

If supervisors deny the most recent request, Mountain Gathering can proceed with its original plans with no restrictions or conditions from the township.

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or jweigand@tribweb.com.

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