Share This Page

Residents urge council to revise drilling regulations

| Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

A group of Murrysville residents want local officials to reconsider how and where Marcellus shale drilling can occur before the industry sets up shop in the municipality.

Members of the Citizens for the Preservation of Rural Murrysville asked council last week to postpone any decisions about drilling — including whether to solicit offers to drill under Murrysville Community Park — until municipal drilling regulations have been revisited.

Board member Linda Marts said the group's board of directors wants council to establish a task force to revisit the municipal ordinance. That is in the works, chief administrator Jim Morrison said.

Murrysville resident Alyson Holt — who, along with the preservation group, plans to circulate a referendum petition to help council determine if the park's gas rights will be leased — agreed that revisions are needed.

“Much has been learned in that time,” Holt said. “Municipalities now have both the constitutional right and the public-safety obligation to enact zoning ordinances that protect their citizens' constitutional rights to clean air; pure water; and to the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic and esthetic values of the environment.”

A municipal task force met throughout 2010 and 2011 to craft the regulations, which include a zoning district where surface drilling can occur. Seven members of that committee — Jayne Hoy; Fred Baldassare, Alan Halperin; former Councilman Ron Summerhill; and council members Jeff Kepler, Joan Kearns and Dave Perry — will review the regulations for ways to improve the ordinance.

“All are very well-versed in work done previously, as well as actions done by the Supreme Court,” Morrison said.

Officials said they planned to revisit the ordinance after the state Supreme Court overturned significant portions of Act 13, the state's drilling regulations. The state regulations had limited local officials' power to regulate the drilling process.

Resident Leona Dunnett, who had been outspoken against drilling in the past, said she thinks municipal officials have more power since Act 13 was overturned.

“The precedent set actually states that local zoning laws trump the state's power,” Dunnett said.

Morrison said the group will begin reviewing the ordinance in April.

Daveen Rae Kurutz is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8627, or dkurutz@tribweb.com.

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.