Public to have its say on pumping station project, PUC to take testimony
NEWTOWN TOWNSHIP - At the Nov. 14 supervisors’ meeting, township solicitor Jeffrey Garton announced that the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) has scheduled two public hearings on Wednesday, Dec. 12 in the township building on Durham Road.
The agency wants to hear comments from the board of supervisors and the public on Newtown Artesian Water Company’s request to build a 228,000 gallon-a-day groundwater pumping station in the northern end of the township.
Both hearings will be held the same GDy, WKH fiUVW DW 1 S.P. DNG WKH VHFRNG at 6:30 p.m. They are scheduled to be broadcast on the township’s cable TV channel.
According to township manager Kurt Ferguson, the PUC allows comments up WR IRuU RU fivH PLNuWHV IURP HDFK SHUson. “The meetings could be three or four hours long if 25 people show up,” he said.
The supervisors have hired Harrisburg attorney Thomas Sniscak of Hawke McKeon & Sniscak LLP, who specializes in regulatory issues, to represent the township in its opposition to the utility’s request.
When the project was unveiled this summer before the township supervisors, the board had vowed to formally oppose the company’s request for variances to construct the pumping station within the Conservation Management (CM) Zoning District.
At the time, the proposed location also worried many area residents who publicly had spoken out against it.
Because of the opposition, Newtown
Artesian in September formally withdrew its application before township zoning regulators to construct the pumping station, which the company contends is desperately needed to meet the area’s growing water demand.
In an effort to circumvent a protracted zoning battle with the township, the utility filHG WKH 3UC DSSlLFDWLon Ln HDrly 2FWoEHr seeking permission to build the pumping station in the northeast corner of township on conservation-zoned land.
7KH 3UC KDV EHHn SrHVVLng 1HwWown $rWHVLDn Wo finG D nHw wDWHr VourFH Ln orGHr to provide the best rates to its customers, wKLFK GDrWon VDLG FoulG mDkH LW GLIfiFulW Ior WKH WownVKLS Wo figKW WKH 3UC DSSlLFDtion.
By filLng wLWK WKH VWDWH DgHnFy, WKH Fompany is seeking to avoid having to obtain the needed township zoning variances in order to construct the facility on an undersized lot on the privately-owned Tanner LDwn DnG Snow SWorH SroSHrWy Dlong 1HwWown-:DVKLngWon CroVVLng RoDG (RouWH 532) nHDr ElGrLGgH RoDG.
According to the utility, a new well would hold the cost of water down and make it less expensive than what it would be if it bought water from third parties.
In other action at Wednesday’s meeting, the supervisors praised the township operations, especially the police and highway departments, for handling the mayhem sur- rounding Hurricane Sandy.
However, several supervisors noted that the township could have provided better information updates during the storm.
“3HoSlH wHrH lookLng Ior guLGDnFH DnG not getting it from us,” Supervisor Vice CKDLrmDn 0DWW BHnFKHnHr VDLG, “SDrWLFularly about what roads were open or closed ... 3EC2 uSGDWHV.”
He suggested that a call-in center be established so residents can get updates.
SuSHrvLVor RyDn GDllDgKHr VDLG WKDW SHrKDSV H-mDLl noWLfiFDWLonV FoulG EH VHnW Wo residents. “Even though they don’t have power, many cell phones have the ability to download e-mail.”
According to township manager Kurt Ferguson, the administration will review the situation and recommend what can be done to keep residents better informed in future events.
“That certainly was a challenge,” Ferguson acknowledged.
In a 3-2 vote, the supervisors also approved spending more than $1,000 to as- VLgn WKrHH WownVKLS SolLFH oIfiFHrV Ior Iour hours to help with the annual holiday parade on Saturday, Dec. 2.
The event, which is sponsored by the 1HwWown BuVLnHVV $VVoFLDWLon, VWDrWV DW 2 p.m. and winds through the borough and township along State and Sycamore streets. It attracts several thousand people and is WKH lDrgHVW KolLGDy SDrDGH Ln BuFkV CounWy.
SuSHrvLVor RoE CLHrvo, onH oI WKH GLVsenting votes, questioned spending money Ior WKH oIfiFHrV Ln D WLmH oI fiVFDl DuVWHrLWy.
He said that it was the business association’s responsibility to obtain funding for the parade.
“How do we vote to approve this and then cut other things which are our responVLELlLWy,” CLHrvo mDLnWDLnHG.
SuSHrvLVor 3KLl CDlDEro DgrHHG. “You’rH opening up a can of worms ... other people are going to ask for money and we’re going to say ‘no.’”
The supervisors also unanimously apSrovHG D rHVoluWLon GHFlDrLng 1ovHmEHr DV 3DnFrHDWLF $wDrHnHVV 0onWK Ln WKH Wownship.
About 37,000 people in WKH U.S. DrH HVWLmDWHG Wo GLH this year from the disease, more than from breast cancer.
The next-regularly scheduled supervisors’ meeting is 1ov. 28.