New­town Arte­sian re­vives plan for pump­ing sta­tion

The Advance of Bucks County - - NEWTOWN AREA - By D.E. Sch­lat­ter

NEW­TOWN TOWN­SHIP - In an ef­fort to avoid a pro­tracted zon­ing bat­tle with the town­ship su­per­vi­sors, the New­town Arte­sian Wa­ter Co. has in­stead asked the Penn­syl­va­nia Pub­lic Util­ity Com­mis­sion (PUC) for per­mis­sion to build a 228,000 gal­lon-a-day ground­wa­ter pump­ing sta­tion on con­ser­va­tion-zoned land in the north­east cor­ner of town­ship.

By fil­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion with the PUC, the util­ity is seek­ing to avoid hav­ing to ob­tain the needed town­ship zon­ing vari­ances in or­der to con­struct the fa­cil­ity on an un­der­sized lot on pri­vate prop­erty along New­townWash­ing­ton Cross­ing Road (Route 532) near Eldridge Road.

Town­ship So­lic­i­tor Jef­frey Gar­ton in­formed the su­per­vi­sors of New­town Arte­sian’s PUC fil­ing at the Oct. 10 board meet­ing. Ac­cord­ing to Gar­ton, the com­pany chose to with­draw is ap­pli­ca­tion be­fore the New­town Zon­ing Hear­ing Board and in­stead file with the PUC.

“There’s a pro­vi­sion in the Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties Pro­ce­dural Code which ex­empts a pub­lic util­ity, a reg­u­lated com­pany, from lo­cal reg­u­la­tions if the process, or project, is in­her­ent to their ser­vice pro­vided to the pub­lic,” Gar­ton ex­plained.

“The PUC ap­proval would have the af­fect of plac­ing the well at that lo­ca­tion through the PUC process and not through the nor­mal town­ship chan­nels,” he added.

iast month, New­town Arte­sian for­mally had with- drawn 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.

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.

The project had sparked the ire of New­town su­per­vi­sors, who had vowed in July to for­mally op­pose the com­pany’s re­quest for vari­ances to con­struct a pump­ing sta­tion within the Con­ser­va­tion Man­age­ment (CM) Zon­ing Dis­trict in the town­ship’s north­east sec­tion.

The site’s lo­ca­tion also wor­ried many area res­i­dents who pub­licly had spo­ken out against the project, de­spite the util­ity’s claim that no area ground­wa­ter wells would be ad­versely af­fected.

At the Oct. 10 su­per­vi­sors meet­ing, Chair­man Mike Gal­lagher said that res­i­dents in the area of the planned pump­ing sta­tion are con­cerned what would hap­pen to the un­der­ground wa­ter sup­ply if the project were ap­proved.

“Over two-thirds of our town­ship has pub­lic sewer and wa­ter,” Gal­lagher stated, “The pro­posed well site is in a sec­tion of the town­ship that doesn’t have pub­lic sewer and wa­ter, and in­stead uses aquifers.”

In a 5-0 vote, the su­per­vi­sors ap­proved a res­o­lu­tion for the town­ship so­lic­i­tor to look into how much it would cost to hire an at­tor­ney in Harrisburg who han­dles PUC mat­ters, and if the town­ship could even­tu­ally pre­vail.

Gar­ton said that he would re­port back to the board at the Oct. 24 meet­ing. At that time the su­per­vi­sors will de­cide whether to for­mally op­pose the PUC ap­pli­ca­tion.

“This is go­ing to be a never-end­ing bat­tle to pro­tect of con­ser­va­tion dis­trict,” Gal­lagher de­clared.

At the July 25 board meet­ing, the su­per­vi­sors had said that they were re­luc­tant to sup­port the four zon­ing vari­ances that the util­ity was re­quest­ing in or­der to have the new well on line by next spring.

The com­pany needed the waivers for a 30 ft. by 22 ft. build­ing on CM-zoned land across from the Grey­stone Manor House cater­ing hall. The well would be on pri­vate prop­erty owned by the Tan­ner iawn and Snow Store.

While the town­ship can­not legally pro­hibit New­town Arte­sian from drilling a new well, the com­pany had been seek­ing the su­per­vi­sors’ un­of­fi­cial back­ing to pro­ceed with its zon­ing vari­ances and land de­vel­op­ment waivers.

But the su­per­vi­sors had ques­tioned the com­pany’s re­quest to use only 2.5 acres in the CM Dis­trict, in­stead of the re­quired 10-acre min­i­mum.

”I’m con­cerned with vari­ances in the CM dis­trict,” Su­per­vi­sor Rob Ciervo had told New­town Arte­sian rep­re­sen­ta­tives who at­tended the July meet­ing.

The pro­posed pump­ing sta­tion al­ready has re­ceived ap­proval from the Delaware River Basin Com­mis­sion (DRBC) and the state, but needed the town­ship vari­ances to ac­tu­ally start con­struc­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.