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February 28, 2014

Pulaski gives zoning approval for wells

NEW CASTLE — The Pulaski Township supervisors gave zoning approval to two well pads and 13 new wells this week.

The vote was 2-0-1 with Sam Varano and Greg Carna voting yes. Lori Sniezek abstained, citing a possible conflict of interest because she is employed by Hilcorp Energy Co., which had requested the approvals.

The supervisors approved conditional use applications for the following:

•Eight horizontal wells on the property of Howard E. and Rhonda M. Artman, 1236 Maple Lane

•One well pad and four horizontal wells on the Ralph C. and Ida R. Verno property on Maple Lane

•One well pad and one well on the Alexander J. Mijavec property on Cherriwood Road.

The well pads and wells are all located in agricultural districts. They all will use the Shenango River as a water source.

Stephanie McMurray, regulatory technician for Hilcorp, said one well and a well pad previously had been approved for the Artman site. Access to this and to the Verno site will be through Maple Lane and Route 551. She said construction will begin in April or May for the first well on the Verno site.

Access to the Mijavec site will be from Route 422 to Cherriwood. McMurray said three more wells are planned there.

Several of about three dozen people attending the meeting commented before the supervisors voted.

One was Sister Barbara O’Donnell of Villa Maria, a Humility of Mary congregation. The nuns live and run a retreat facility and farm on Evergreen Road, which is about a mile from the Mijavec site.

“We want to be good neighbors,” O’Donnell said, but added, “Knowing what one is signing is essential before we can say this is for the common good.”

Pauline Beck of Hoopenhobe Lane, West Middlesex, asked the supervisors to “slow down a little bit ... to see if indeed this is safe.”

Tammy Rudzik of Cherriwood Road asked what measures would be taken to protect residents near the Mijavec site from noise and lights.

McMurray said a noise survey would be done before construction and sound barriers would be put in place to mitigate noise. She said the operation would run 24 hours a day.

Carrie Hahn of Indian Run Road, Volant, questioned the safety of well water near the well pads and asked the supervisors “to be cautious.”

The supervisors imposed the same conditions on the new well pads and wells as they have on previous ones they have approved. Among these are provisions that Hilcorp submit a road repair and maintenance agreement to protect the public roads, comply with lighting requirements, and plan for safety and stormwater management.

Varano said he wants the conditions to state that the well pad may not exceed the normal noise levels in the area of the Mijavec property because residences are nearby.

The approvals will be final once findings of facts and conclusions of law are completed and signed by the supervisors, which will likely take a few days, officials said.


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