Wednesday, May 22, 2019

PA Supreme Court Upholds Lower Court Ruling Allowing Local Zoning Permits For Drilling In Westmoreland County

On May 21, the PA Supreme Court denied an appeal of a November 2018 Commonwealth Court decision turning back a challenge to special exception permits granted by a township for unconventional natural gas drilling based on concerns about the storage of drilling wastewater and alleged violations of the state’s Environmental Rights Amendment.
Commonwealth Court said the objector presented “no credible evidence of harm” and the claims made are unsupported by the “accepted evidence of record.”
The case involves a challenge to local zoning ordinance decisions in Penn Township, Westmoreland County that granted 4 special exception applications to Apex Energy PA for unconventional gas wells in a Rural Resource Zoning District which also lie in the Township’s Mineral Extraction Overlay District.
Three of the applications were denied initially by the Board, but Apex Energy PA filed suit in federal court and in a settlement agreement allowed the applications to proceed under a set of conditions in exchange for the Township agreeing to be bound by certain interpretations of the zoning ordinance under the state’s Environmental Rights Amendment.
The objector in the case then challenged the special exception decisions in Westmoreland County Court, which, without taking additional evidence, affirmed the Zoning Hearing Board’s decisions.
Click Here for more information on the Commonwealth Court Decision.
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