Challenge to Murrysville fracking ordinance will continue Thursday |

Challenge to Murrysville fracking ordinance will continue Thursday

Patrick Varine
Patrick Varine | Tribune-Review
Attorney John Smith gives his opening statement on behalf of the Murrysville Watch Committee on Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018. The group is challenging the validity of Murrysville’s fracking ordinance before the municipality’s zoning hearing board.

The citizens’ group challenging the validity of Murrysville’s fracking ordinance will be back before the municipality’s zoning hearing board on Thursday.

The resident committee outlined its challenge before the board on Nov. 29.

Murrysville council members voted 6-1 last year to approve their fracking ordinance, which they fine-tuned, re-examined and tweaked over seven years. Canonsburg drillers Huntley & Huntley soon after requested state permits to drill a 4-acre well pad and access road on 71 acres in eastern Murrysville.

The group, Murrysville Watch Committee, contends that the purpose of developing an overlay district — the designation Murrysville gave to the area where fracking is permitted — is to provide additional protections, rather than open up a residential district to what its members consider an industrial activity.

Attorneys for Huntley & Huntley as well as for the municipality and for landowners looking to lease their mineral rights argued in the initial hearing that a Commonwealth Court case involving the validity of Allegheny Township’s fracking ordinance has essentially already decided the issue.

“These challenges are nearly always based on the idea that an ordinance has gone too far in its regulation,” said Allegheny Township solicitor Bernie Matthews at the initial hearing in late November. “If the Commonwealth Court held up Allegheny Township’s ordinance — which is less restrictive — as valid, then, as a matter of law, Murrysville’s ordinance is valid.”

Matthews is representing several Murrysville landowners at the zoning board hearing, which will continue at 7 p.m., Thursday at the municipal building, 4100 Sardis Road in Murrysville.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter @MurrysvilleStar.

Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Categories: Local | Murrysville
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