New Castle News

April 1, 2014

Neighbors fear compressor station

Mary Grzebieniak
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE — A group of residents said they will go to court if a gas compressor station is built on Baird Road.

Mike Angelo of Hillsville Road said the group is prepared to sue Mahoning Township and Hilcorp Energy Co. of Texas if the station is approved.

They said survey stakes have gone up and they have been told the station is being planned on property Hilcorp already is leasing on Baird Road. The property is about one and a half miles south of Route 422, not far from the site of a proposed racetrack and casino.

About 40 residents attended a Mahoning Township Planning Commission meeting Thursday to express opposition. But the Mahoning Township supervisors, who all attended the meeting, said that while they are aware of the plans, nothing has been submitted to the township and no decisions have been made.

“It’s not like it’s something we don’t know about,” Supervisor Vito Yeropoli said. “People have been in my office for two weeks. It’s not like we’re not talking to these people.”

Yeropoli said he has suggested other places for a site. “Believe me, you don’t have to get nervous. It ain’t done. It’s not over.

“People are talking and saying they might slide something in,” he added. “You can’t slide something in.”

But Angelo said he has family in that area and “when your children and grandchildren are exposed to danger, you address it before it happens.”

Angelo said he has three grandchildren who live within 500 feet of the proposed site and said skin and throat cancers have been found in children and adults near such plants and that home values in those areas “have plummeted.”

He said there are other sites in the township where such a plant would be safer and asked the planning commission and the supervisors to help Hilcorp find an alternative.

“This group here is willing to take any necessary steps to block the construction of this plant in our area ...” he said, adding some are even willing to make “personal contributions” to the township “in case Hilcorp decides to file suit against Mahoning Township for blocking this plant.”

He said some also would consider a temporary tax to help the township defend any potential lawsuit if it refuses to allow the plant.

Angelo, who said he is in the thoroughbred racing business, asked whether the township has considered the possibility that such a plant could cause Penn National to move the racing license from the Baird Road site to another location because of “potential health problems” and traffic problems.

One woman tearfully said she and her elderly mother live within feet of the site, adding she fears the health issues as well as the noise and lights that could shatter the peace of their area. “No money can buy you health.”

Allen Miller, planning commission chairman, said, “We haven’t seen this plan. This is the first I’ve heard of it.”

He added the supervisors would have to approve such a project.

Some residents asked the supervisors to state whether they would favor such a plant. However, township solicitor Lou Perrotta cautioned them not to respond, because they are the ones who would have to vote on its approval.

A Hilcorp spokesman said company officials had not given him any statement on whether such a plant is proposed.

(Email: grzebieniak@ncnewsonline.com)