New Castle News

October 19, 2012

Neshannock Township considers zoning updates

Nancy Lowry
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — Neshannock Township is a step closer to revising its zoning map and ordinance.

The supervisors this week agreed to begin the process to adopt the new ordinance, which will include advertising the changes, making them available for public inspection and scheduling a public hearing.

The result will be to upgrade the ordinance to reflect current land use and to accommodate new issues, specifically oil and gas drilling. Those were not considered when the current ordinance was approved in 1999.

Zoning consultant Roberta Sarraf of Canonsburg explained options that may have to change depending on the result of Act 13, a new law that regulates the natural gas industry and limits the ability of municipalities to control placement of drilling operations through local zoning.

Currently, she said the township limits drilling to specific zones, but only as a conditional use.

The Corbett administration has appealed a Commonwealth Court ruling that the zoning aspects are unconstitutional. Sarraf said the Pennsylvania Supreme Court this week heard arguments on the issue.

Sarraf said three options have been presented to the township. She recommended that the supervisors include in the new ordinance the one that expands areas where drilling may be done, but retains conditional use controls  regarding drilling and the  creation of impound water stations, compressor stations and processing plants — all associated with the drilling industry.

“Act 13 would open the whole township to drilling as a permitted use, and remove controls,” she said. “If the court rules Act 13 is not constitutional, we can restore the original language.”

the most recent document predates Act 13.