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Jefferson Hills officials slate drilling hearings

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By Tim Karan
Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 2:16 a.m.

Jefferson Hills officials plan to conduct a public hearing in April to discuss a proposed ordinance regarding potential oil and gas drilling.

Council voted unanimously on Monday to schedule and advertise the hearing for discussion of a new oil and gas overlay districts zoning ordinance that would bring the borough one step closer to hosting Marcellus shale drilling operations.

Borough planner and zoning director Allen Cohen said Jefferson Hills had been in a holding pattern on the issue from about this time last year until December, when the state Supreme Court threw out portions of Act 13 — Pennsylvania's oil and gas drilling law — that would have restricted local zoning.

“We've had our pending ordinance for about a year,” Cohen said. “But now that the Supreme Court has ruled on the issue, we're going to consider adopting it again.”

Cohen said the areas proposed for drilling zones are largely in rural sections of the borough.

“Basically, it's in areas that are away from densely populated areas,” he said. “Sort of on the fringes of the borough and in more underdeveloped areas.”

A map of the proposed zoning shows potential drilling could take place in the southwest portion of the borough, part of the northeast border with West Mifflin, and the vicinity surrounding the Clairton industrial area, among other isolated spots.

The public hearing is tentatively scheduled to take place around April 10.

Tim Karan is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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