Court OKs Sunoco petition to use eminent domain in Penn Township
A Westmoreland County judge has given Sunoco Logistics Partners LP a court order to acquire an easement from a Penn Township property through eminent domain for its Mariner East pipeline project.
In an order dated Aug. 2, Common Pleas Judge Richard E. McCormick Jr. approved the company's petition to obtain a 1.66-acre easement from Quest Realty Partnership's property along Mellon Road.
Though McCormick also has granted Sunoco Logistics permission to go onto three properties in Hempfield, Sewickley and South Huntingdon townships to perform environmental testing related to the pipeline path, the Quest case was the first in the county in which a judge allowed the company to use eminent domain for the project.
The Mariner East pipeline is part of a $600 million export project that has been controversial in Westmoreland County. The Philadelphia-based company has been dogged by worries about safety and criticism that its threats of eminent domain are part of a heavy-handed attempt to acquire land.
Sunoco Logistics is acquiring rights-of-way to build a 50-mile spur to connect to a pipeline that ends at an export terminal south of Philadelphia. It will transport ethane and propane across the state, with about the last half mile going into Delaware, the company has said. That qualifies it as interstate commerce, which enables Sunoco Logistics to use eminent domain under state law, the company and independent experts have said.
But Hempfield Township Supervisor Tom Logan, whose 80-acre farm is in the pipeline path, said he thinks it's a “real stretch” for the company to be able to use eminent domain.
“I think private-property rights are under assault in this state,” he said.
In Sunoco Logistic's petition to enter Logan's property, the company said Logan would not grant permission until it gave him $5,000 in anticipation of damage to the farm.
“The court will entitle me to damages later, and I wanted them upfront,” Logan said.
In a statement, Sunoco communications manager Jeffrey Shields said the company has taken “significant measures to lessen the impact” of the project on residential areas, including modifying the initial route to follow the right-of-way of an existing Dominion Resources Inc. gas-transmission line.
“Our preference is to work with the landowners on an individual basis so that we can understand their concerns and address issues related to their particular property, offering them fair market value or above for the needed easements,” Shields said.
The company posted a bond of $26,700 to acquire the title to the Quest Realty easement, court records show. The 89-acre parcel is adjacent to the William Penn Care Center and William Penn Senior Suites and Personal Care.
Neither Quest attorney George Pomper nor Quest CEO Daniel J. Wukich could be reached for comment.
Staff Writer Tim Puko contributed to this story. Chris Foreman is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8671, or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
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.