THE NEW NEIGHBOR

Edg­mont res­i­dents talk about hav­ing pipe­line lit­er­ally in their back­yards

Daily Times (Primos, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Les­lie Krowchenko Times Cor­re­spon­dent

THORN­BURY » With young­sters rid­ing trikes, kids kick­ing soc­cer balls and fam­i­lies walk­ing dogs, An­dover seems like a typ­i­cal sub­di­vi­sion.

The or­ange bar­ri­ers, “no tres­pass­ing” signs and open space dis­tur­bance, how­ever, are erod­ing into its white picket fence nor­malcy.

An­dover is one of a num­ber of de­vel­op­ments, busi­nesses and schools through­out the state, in­clud­ing in Delaware and Ch­ester coun­ties, ef­fected by the Sunoco Pipe­line L.P. Mariner East 2 pro­ject. The in­tru­sion of the in­stal­la­tion has be­come an un­wanted part of every­day life.

“Per­sonal prop­erty rights, per­sonal safety is­sues and per­sonal well-be­ing have all been set aside,” said home­owner Jen­nifer Deg­nan. “From the gov­er­nor’s de­ci­sion all the way down to lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties – to give full reign to En­ergy Trans­fer Part­ners, Sunoco and their con­trac­tors is truly is a sad day for Penn­syl­va­ni­ans.”

Span­ning Penn­syl­va­nia, West Vir­ginia and Ohio, Mariner East 2 is a 350mile pipe­line sys­tem slated to bring nat­u­ral gas liq­uids such as propane, eth­ane and bu­tane to the Mar­cus Hook In­dus­trial Com­plex. Ap­prox­i­mately 11.4 miles would be in­stalled in Delaware County across pri­vate and pub­lic prop­erty in the town­ship, Edg­mont, Mid­dle­town, As­ton and Up­per Chich­ester, end­ing at the fa­cil­ity.

The pri­vate prop­erty is­sue is one of sev­eral with which the An­dover home­own­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tion has taken ex­cep­tion. The de­vel­op­ment of 39 sin­gle fam­ily homes on ap­prox­i­mately 42 acres, bounded by routes 352 and 926, in­cludes 40 per­cent open space as re­quired by mu­nic­i­pal code.

The as­so­ci­a­tion claims, how­ever, that Sunoco’s ease­ment is part of that open space and the pro­ject has re­duced the tract be­low the min­i­mum size. It has ques­tioned whether the work was com­pleted within the lim­its of the ease­ment or strayed into the com­mu­nal land.

“The land is our park,” said Eric Fried­man. “It has a trail sys­tem, pro­vides a buf­fer and is for the use and en­joy­ment of An­dover res­i­dents and their guests.”

The home­own­ers have also ap­pealed the town­ship zon­ing, build­ing and elec­tri­cal per­mits is­sued to Sunoco for Mariner East 1 and the high­way oc­cu­pancy per­mit granted by Pen­nDOT, which has al­lowed the com­pany to build con­struc­tion roads ac­cess­ing the high­ways. Each is­sue is un­der lit­i­ga­tion.

The stumps are all that re­main of nearly half the buf­fer be­tween Kathy Ven­tresca’s deck and the traf­fic on Mid­dle­town Road, Route 352. Nearly 30 of the ev­er­greens planted be­hind her house when the de­vel­op­ment was built in 2007 have been re­moved, tak­ing with them the nat­u­ral sound bar­rier and pri­vacy pro­tec­tion.

“This land was an old ap­ple or­chard and the builder re­placed the trees one-forone,” she said. “I work from home and the buf­fer was nice when I was on the phone.”

In ad­di­tion to the newer trees, Mark and Jen­nifer Ber­linger, who live in a 1798 farm­house, have seen the loss of an ash, black wal­nut and 150-year-old ginkgo near their prop­erty. The mas­sive plant­ings not only added to the his­toric na­ture of their home, which con­tains a bee­hive oven and root cel­lar, but pro­vided a layer of safety and se­cu­rity.

“Many of us bought our houses be­cause of the open space that is part of our com­mu­nity prop­erty and the trails where we could walk our dogs and in­stead for the next two years we have this,” said Jen­nifer Ber­linger. “If we found jobs else­where and de­cided to move, who would want to come to this con­struc­tion zone?”

Jen­nifer and Stephen Deg­nan’s house abuts the open space on two sides, both of which have been com­man­deered as part of the pipe­line route. The buf­fer be­tween their res­i­dence and Duf­fer’s Tav­ern has been re­moved for the above ground valve sta­tion and per­ma­nent road ap­prox­i­mately 30 feet from their home.

“We can look in Duf­fer’s win­dow and see what is on TV and their cus­tomers can look in­side our house and see what we are watch­ing,” said Jen­nifer Deg­nan. “The noise is much louder, both from traf­fic and from Duf­fer’s cus­tomers, and we have head­lights from the park­ing lot com­ing in our win­dows.”

The Deg­nans’ yard has al­ways been a mag­net for neigh­bor­hood kids and she felt com­fort­able telling them to “go out­side and play” with­out con­stant su­per­vi­sion. She now feels the need, how­ever, to watch from the deck.

“I don’t know who th­ese peo­ple are,” she added. “Our school dis­trict has a built-in se­cu­rity sys­tem that re­quires peo­ple com­ing in the build­ing to show proper iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, but there’s noth­ing like that here.”

The cou­ple also pointed to the valve site posted with a sign pro­hibit­ing ac­tions such as smok­ing, cell phone use and ve­hi­cle idling with 25 feet. Work­ers in hard hats, how­ever, can at times be seen en­gaged in the banned ac­tiv­i­ties closer than the des­ig­nated dis­tance.

The line of de­mar­ca­tion be­tween the prop­er­ties and the work site, once sprayed with flu­o­res­cent or­ange

“Many of us bought our houses be­cause of the open space that is part of our com­mu­nity prop­erty and the trails where we could walk our dogs, and in­stead for the next two years we have this. If we found jobs else­where and de­cided to move, who would want to come to this con­struc­tion zone?”

— Jen­nifer Ber­linger

paint, was re­placed re­cently with sim­i­larly-col­ored fenc­ing and “Keep Out-Au­tho­rized Per­son­nel Only” signs. The orig­i­nal lack of a phys­i­cal bar­rier re­sulted in con­trac­tors call­ing the Penn­syl­va­nia State Po­lice mul­ti­ple times when it ap­peared home­own­ers were “tres­pass­ing” on their own open space, said Fried­man.

“We were walk­ing on land that we have walked on as long as we have lived here. No one tried to talk or interfere with the con­trac­tors, but if we stepped over the line, they called,” he added. “The as­so­ci­a­tion has ap­pre­ci­ated the Penn­syl­va­nia State Po­lice and the cour­te­sies and pro­fes­sion­al­ism they have dis­played.”

Mem­bers also noted what they per­ceived as a lack of sup­port from the town­ship. Like most home­own­ers, buy­ing a house is typ­i­cally the largest pur­chase they will ever make and the 4,000-square-foot houses, with ask­ing prices close to $1 mil­lion, rep­re­sent a sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment in their lives and the more than $12,000 in an­nual prop­erty taxes pro­vides sub­stan­tial rev­enue to the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

“This makes you feel aban­doned by your su­per­vi­sors,” said Mark Ber­linger. “They could have played a larger role in stop­ping Sunoco, but they didn’t.”

While the noise and lights are a short-term in­con­ve­nience, the pos­si­bil­ity of a leak of pres­sur­ized gas rep­re­sents a loom­ing threat. Con­struc­tion has also ex­posed high lev­els of lead, ar­senic and dield­rin, com­pounds cov­ered by grass and im­per­vi­ous sur­faces which have been dis­turbed.

“We bought in 2015 and an­tic­i­pate rais­ing our kids and liv­ing here for the next 30-40 years,” said Mike Walsh. “This is a fail­ure from the top down.”

LES­LIE KROWCHENKO - DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Work­ers clear the way for the Mariner East 2 pipe­line be­side homes in the An­dover de­vel­op­ment off Route 352 in Edg­mont Town­ship.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

The view from Jen­nifer and Stephen Deg­nan’s deck once in­cluded nu­mer­ous trees sep­a­rat­ing the house from Duf­fer’s Tav­ern.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

Here’s the view now with Duf­fer’s in full view where the trees once stood.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

A or­ange con­struc­tion fence and “Keep Out – Au­tho­rized Per­son­nel Only” sign sep­a­rates An­dover res­i­dents from their open space.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

This tree is one of many re­moved be­tween homes and Route 352.

SUBMITTED PHOTO

The view from a rear yard along Route 352 shows the prox­im­ity to the high­way.

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