Platt Road :: Sandy Supers Look to Set the Record Straight Amid Conspiracy Theories
Between the last Sandy Township meeting and Saturday night (June 16) a second set of hay bales were placed on the opposite end of the site. The back of the pumping station is enclosed by a forest leaving only the front open.
Platt Road resident Adrian Sumner approached the Sandy Township Supervisors with questions and charges during the open public comment period.
At the June 18 meeting, Sumner stated she had heard that the property owner had ties to the township. Supervisor Dave Sylvis stated he did not know who owned the land. Township Manager Dick Castonguay stated on the record that the land owner and chairman of the planning commission owned the land.
At the June 4 meeting Jim Jeffers asked what part of the pumping operation would have to go through the township’s planning commission. Castonguay replied the only reason the planning commission would get involved if there were moves to have subdivisions made.
The supervisors responded to a point in an email Sumner had written, but according to the supervisors had asked not to be made public, that she was making conspiratorial points without facts.
One charge that Sylvis made public was that EOG, the City of DuBois, and Sandy Township were making money on the water pumping on Platt Road. He reiterated a point he had made at a previous meeting, that all Sandy Township gets out of the pumping is jobs. The City of DuBois is selling the water. It is only being pumped in the township’s borders. EOG, who is using it for Marcellus Shale Drilling is an out of the area business. So Sandy Township doesn’t get any tax revenue from EOG, but from local employees working there.
Sylvis suggested, stressing it was just himself and not the board, that the residents should approach the City of DuBois for assistance on the grounds that as the provider of the water they would be in a stronger negotiating position at the township’s May 21 meeting.
“They are making the big profit off [the pumping]. They should be able to reinvest something into that if the problem is there. If that company pulls tomorrow we don’t lose a nickel of it. It’s the City of DuBois. Except the jobs that are there,” said Sylvis at the June 4 meeting after the City of DuBois stated they were also unable to assist the Platt Road residents.
The City of DuBois, at their May 29 meeting stated they were unable to help. All they do is sell the water. It wasn’t their concern how or where the product, water, was taken after the transaction. It was up to Sandy Township to regulate what goes on in its borders, not the city. The city has contracted EOG for up to 900 thousand gallons a day to be drawn, reservoir levels pending, as regulated by the Susquehanna River Basin Commission. City Council stated they had shut off the flow at low reservoir levels previously.
Sylvis stated, again, that the township has no legal leg to impede the water pumping operation.
The township’s primary argument at the last few meetings has been that it is a permitted in a properly zoned industrial park. Had it been in an area zoned differently a conditional use would have been required, such as with the shale pit. With a conditional use hours of operation for pumping and/or truck traffic could have been established. It just happened that the pumping station, while waiting for permits to clear the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, is stuck against the road that serves as the boundary line between the industrial park and a Residential-Agriculture zoned area. Once the permits clear, the township was informed that the pumping operations will move an additional 200 feet away from the road.
The May 7 meeting stated part of the delay was due to issues caused by previous logging on the site leaving a mark against the property.
Platt Road residents asked if there were an ordinance pertaining to noise levels when it became clear regulating operating hours would not work. Township Solicitor Greg Kruk stated there was no specific noise ordinance at meetings in the past.
“There is a provision in the zoning ordinance that talks about performance standards. Under that particular section is discussion about noise,” said Kruk at the June 4 meeting.
The section, as stated by Kruk, required objectional noises to be muffled or controlled. Kruk explained it was up to the supervisors to vote on whether the noise qualified as objectionable. The supervisors took no action on this either at the June 4 or June 18 meetings.
Asked after Monday’s meeting, Castonguay said the area had been an industrial park before his time with the township. He estimated that it would have been an industrial park 25 through 30 years at this point. This was the case before Sumner had purchased her home.
“A lawyer I was talking to for weeks on end said what you were doing was illegal,” said Sumner.
Sumner stated that after weeks of talking to said, unnamed lawyer, a meeting had been scheduled with the lawyer and other residents. The meeting had been canceled an hour prior to occurring with the lawyer citing “conflict of interest”. Sumner stated she would be seeking out of the area legal counsel to avoid the township trying to influence her legal aid.
Sylvis attacked the charge that there was something going on between the council and Corbett when he had to ask during the meeting who owned the land. At most of the previous meetings Corbett had been referred to only as “the property owner” by Castonguay. Dan Corbett was stated to be the property owner during the May 7 meeting by one of the Platt Road residents.
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