Who’s Standing Up For You?

Who’s Standing Up For You?

What is West Goshen afraid of?

At the Board of Supervisors meeting on March 8th, 2017, Tom asked if the township was going to engage with Sunoco and enforce the 2014 zoning ordinance that is designed to protect residential zones within the township. The response from the board was “not at this time.” Essentially NO. They would not be helping to protect the health, safety, and welfare of townships residents by enforcing the zoning law. But residents are free to do it for themselves! This is an absurd way of governing. And, quite frankly, a dereliction of duty by the board.

The 2nd class township code Section 607 – Duties of The board of supervisors shall: “Be charged with the general governance of the township and the execution of legislative, executive and administrative powers in order to ensure sound fiscal management and to secure the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the township.”

 

At a township meeting in April 2015, just prior to the signing of the settlement agreement, Tom asked the township solicitor if a corporation can take away the township’s ability to enforce its zoning. Their response was,

“a corporation does not have any power to do anything with respect to this board.”

So what is it that they are afraid of? Losing? So what! We all lose sometimes.

But to not even put up a fight by people elected by the residents to uphold the laws and keep us safe should never be acceptable. Currently there are two board members, Ray Halvorsen (Rep) and Phil Corvo (Dem), that are up for re-election. We also have Ted Murphy who was the former supervisor that signed the agreement running for election as well.

Should the residents of West Goshen vote to put someone back on the board who has demonstrated a willingness to forego their sworn duty to uphold the constitution of Pennsylvania and the 2nd Class Townships codes?

Recently in Thornbury Township residents requested that their government tell Sunoco to obey ALL local ordinances just like the residents have to do. The township sent a letter to Sunoco outlining their position and for the company to comply with all zoning. It stated: “Lastly, a group of neighboring landowners have demanded enforcement of the “open space” provisions of the zoning ordinance which could be directly affected by these projects.”

 

West Goshen Township sent a letter in February to Sunoco reminding them that they must comply as well, but only with regards to the valve. However, they did reference the zoning ordinance which clearly defines the pipes in R3 residential zones that are too close to home are NOT permitted.

West Goshen Township Zoning Code says Gas and liquid pipeline facilities and hazardous liquid and/or gas pipelines are only permitted in the I-1, I-2, I-2R, I-3 and I-C districts by conditional use and subject to compliance with the following standards:

 

The township’s letter stated: “Because Sunoco’s proposed placement of the valve is on property within the Township Residential Zoning District, such placement is not permitted.”

 

So why not enforce the law? The township solicitor’s response was because in Sunoco’s letter they stated why the ordinance does not apply. Sunoco’s letter says: “The case law cited above makes clear that the West Goshen Township Zoning Ordinance you rely on in your Letter is preempted as applied to SPLP. SPLP is a public utility subject to the Public Utility Code. “We further conclude that Sunoco is regulated as a public utility by PUC and is a public utility corporation, and Mariner East intrastate service is a public utility service rendered by Sunoco . . . .”

But what Sunoco and the township fail to realize is that the PUC does not site pipelines! Nor does any agency, state, or federal government entity. Why is that important? Because our township has the ability to site pipelines in residential zones. Could this be why Sunoco is concerned if West Goshen engages in the battle? Townships have the power to enforce the code and get reimbursed for the legal costs. Residents do not!

The understanding is that the township, and both the special counsel and township counsel, do not believe that any action would be winnable. But what the Sunoco letter failed to mention was that in the Robinson Township case, argued at the Supreme Court, attorney Jordan Yeager won back the ability for municipalities to determine zoning for their residents.

 

West Goshen Township has demonstrated that they are willing to fight against residents, the EPA, and others in court. But when it comes to Sunoco Logistics…nothing! And regarding the PUC fight they are currently in, it is Tom’s opinion, based on previous statements by the PUC, that the PUC will rule against the township and Sunoco will get what it has always wanted.

So why the double standard?

The township is not willing to fight FOR the residents and defend the hundreds of people along the Mariner East pipeline path from a corporation that is violating our laws with a highly dangerous project. This should also matter to the residents in EVERY R3 zone. If Sunoco, or any other pipeline company, wants to put more pipes through our region, the township will most likely NOT fight for you.

Chester County is in the way of getting products to Marcus Hook for shipping to overseas markets; it is currently the 3rd highest county in the state for pipelines. By not fighting to enforce our ordinance, West Goshen officials are helping to provide a pathway of no resistance for the industry. Not to mention the dangerous precedence for other pipeline battles coming to West Goshen Township. They are opening the door for more pipelines!

If any of the West Goshen Supervisors want to help Tom, and the rest of the township residents, then engage in the efforts to enforce the zoning that so many desired for back in 2014.

This post was written by

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *