West Cornwall dismisses second appeal over Sunoco permits

Written by Lisa Chenoweth, Lebanon Daily News | Sep 16, 2015 11:34 AM

The map shows the Mariner East Project from Marcus Hook in Delaware County to terminal in Delmont. It passes through terminals in Sinking Springs, which is named Montello and in Quentin, which is labeled Cornwall. (submitted to Lebanon Daily News)

(Quentin) -- The West Cornwall Township Zoning Hearing Board Tuesday dismissed a second appeal filed by three township residents and a citizens group that challenged building permits issued to Sunoco Logistics for enclosures to the company's pumping station located in the township.

The West Cornwall station is one of 18 such pumping stations located along the 300-mile repurposed Mariner East 1 pipeline that runs natural gases from the Marcellus Shale region in the western part of the state to the company's Marcus Hook processing facility in Delaware County in the eastern part of the state.

After more than two hours of testimony and closing arguments by attorneys for both sides, the board unanimously agreed that the appellants did not have standing to bring the appeal, as contended by attorneys for Sunoco.

"Standing is an important issue that has to be raised at the start of the hearing and resolved prior to the time that we proceed further with the hearing. If the appellant still had standing, they don't have the jurisdiction to complain about the zoning permit that was issued," said Sunoco attorney Helen Gemmill with the Harrisburg law firm McNees Wallace & Nurick.

"My clients are aggrieved as a matter of law," countered Lancaster attorney Dwight Yoder with Gibbel, Kraybill and Hess, and representing Pamela Bishop, Doug Lorenzen, Phillip Stober and Concerned Citizens of Lebanon County. "What this is, is a continuation of a prior proceeding in which they (Sunoco) surrendered those permits and issued new permits in order to end those proceedings.

" The first appeal, filed on the grounds that the original permits issued to Sunoco for the enclosures to the pumping facility and power distribution center located at 370 Horseshoe Pike (Route 322) were obtained without following proper procedures, was declared moot by the zoning hearing board in May since Sunoco had surrendered the permits in April.
Gemmill attempted to clarify from Bishop, Lorenzen and Marcia Stober, sister of Phillip Stober, among other things, whether or not the impact of the enclosure was any greater for the appellants than any other residents in the township - such as additional traffic, noise issues, site distance from the building.

Voicing her concern that her residence is within the 3-mile impact zone from the facility, Bishop replied to Gemmill's suggestion that the zone of impact does not refer specifically to the enclosures, but Bishop's belief that someday there may be an explosion there. "It refers to use of the land which is the subject of zoning," she said. "You can't separate the use and say well there's just four walls there. It's improbable. Because, but for the use, there wouldn't be four walls and that's what the zoning permit approved."

In support of their case, Yoder called upon environmental law attorney Rich Raiders, an Annville resident who has extensive experience working in the petroleum industry, to discuss various safety issues and concerns associated with re-fitting the pipeline, originally constructed in 1932, as well as issues regarding pump station enclosures. He also highlighted for the board a number of accidents that have occurred around the country.

See also

Sunoco claims eminent domain over properties in Lebanon County

Sunoco targets Berks County properties for pipelines

In closing, Gemmill reminded the board that the permit in question is about the enclosure only. This is not a zoning permit for the use of the property, to run the pump or operate the flare stack or for any of the equipment, she said.

"They have to show that they have a particular harm to their interests from the enclosure and about all we heard tonight was that if this whole thing blows up, shrapnel could land within a certain distance."

Sunoco is charged with making sure that nothing bad ever happens there, Gemmill added. Because there are places elsewhere in the country that something bad has happened, or because there is a possibility that something bad might happen, that is not an immediate situation, Gemmill said It's something incredibly remote but would not occur as a result of putting enclosures around the equipment.

The more potential disruption from a structure or a use, the larger the area that people have standing, said Yoder.

"In this case, understand the testimony in evidence is unrebutted. We presented an expert that said the impacts are this up to two to three miles. It's unrebutted that my clients and the citizens group have property they own where they live within that range," Yoder noted.

Bishop expressed her disappointment, especially for Stober an organic farmer, who was unable to attend the hearing and said she felt the testimony given, especially from Raiders, was compelling. She said they will explore their options, which may include an appeal.

This article comes to us through a partnership between the York Daily Record and WITF. 

Published in Lebanon, News

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