ShareThis Page
North Hills

Franklin Park delays vote on fracking lease, sets Jan. 14 public meeting to hear residents' concerns

Tony LaRussa
| Saturday, Dec. 22, 2018, 2:06 p.m.
PennEnergy's proposal to drill for shale gas under Franklin Park's Linbrook Park calls for placing the well pad about 3/4 miles away in Economy borough. It could look similar to this one recently erected in Westmoreland County.
Submitted
PennEnergy's proposal to drill for shale gas under Franklin Park's Linbrook Park calls for placing the well pad about 3/4 miles away in Economy borough. It could look similar to this one recently erected in Westmoreland County.

Concerns about a proposal to allow drilling for shale gas under Linbrook Park in Franklin Park prompted borough council to delay voting on the measure.

To address some of the concerns raised by residents, the borough will hold an information session at 7 p.m. Jan. 14 at the activity center in Blueberry Hill Park.

The borough’s environmental advisory committee also recommended that the meeting be held to discuss the possible problems as well as the benefits of allowing drilling, said borough Manager Regis Ebner.

“A number of residents called before the last meeting and asked that the measure be tabled so that more information can be gathered,” he said. “There will be at least two experts at the meeting on Jan. 14 to answer questions and residents will have an opportunity to comment.”

About 130 attended the Dec. 19 council meeting where the proposal was scheduled for a vote, according to Ebner. A majority of those who addressed council raised concerns about the potential risks to the environment from drilling. Several residents spoke in support of permitting the drilling.

The proposal being considered is a five-year lease that would allow PennEnergy Resources to drill under the 80-acre park in exchange for an upfront payment to the borough of $283,500 plus an a 18-percent royalty on the value of any gas that is extracted.

If the company gets the go-ahead, it plans to place the well head about 3 4 -of-a-mile outside the park in neighboring Economy Borough in Beaver County, Ebner said.

“There won’t be a well in or near the park and no trucks will be going in and out,” Ebner said.

The manager noted that even if the borough passes on the contract with PennEnergy, nothing would prevent drilling companies from entering into agreements with private property owners.

On the same night council was scheduled to vote on the PennEnergy agreement, a second measure designed to set rules for drilling operations in the borough was approved as a “pending ordinance,” which means even though the law has not been formally approved, drillers will have to adhere to its restrictions.

Among the stipulations outlined in the ordinance is a restriction on where drilling will be permitted in the borough.

“We can’t create general restrictions against drilling, which is regulated by the state,” Ebner said. “But we can adopt limits on the locations where it can take place.”

Under the proposal, drilling in Franklin Park would only be allowed in the mostly rural northwest quadrant of the borough near the border with Marshall Township, Ebner said, adding that the area also contains state game lands.

“The rule of thumb we tried to follow with this ordinance is to only allow drilling in areas that have the least impact,” Ebner said. “They’re not going to be able to come in and drill wherever they want.”

The public meetings at which the fracking lease has been discussed is not the only source of information council has about what residents think about the proposal.

Earlier this year the borough mailed 5,298 surveys to residents about the matter.

A total of 1,674 residents, or 31.6 percent of those who received the survey, responded.

Of the responses received, 45.7 percent said they “strongly oppose” the lease and another 8.2 percent said they “oppose” the measure. Among the respondents, 8.2 percent said they were “neutral” on the matter, 17 percent said they “supported” the lease and 20.9 percent said they “strongly” supported entering into the contract.

The results of the survey were published in the borough newsletter distributed to residents.

Tony LaRussa is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tony at 724-772-6368 or tlarussa@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TonyLaRussaTrib.

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.

click me