WEST ROCKHILL >> With neighbors of a proposed compressor building on Rich Hill Road bringing concerns and questions for the second month in a row to the July 18 West Rockhill Township Board of Supervisors meeting, township Solicitor Mary Eberle said Adelphia Gateway, the company that plans to add the compressors to its existing pipeline, will be invited to come to a township meeting to give more information about the plans and answer resident questions.
The compressors are being added because the pipeline is being converted from carrying oil to natural gas. An 8,000- to 10,000-square-foot compressor building that will be 40 to 50 feet high is planned, West Rockhill Township Planning Commission Chairman Chris Derstine said in June.
At the July meeting, resident Judy Benninger said there was a pipeline leak about 15 years ago.
“We had to be evacuated,” she said.
The compressor building adds to the concerns, she said, asking about emergency response plans for the site.
The company seems willing to work with local officials and emergency services on the emergency response plan, although there are limited options, Eberle said.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, not the township, has the authority over whether the building is approved, township officials said in June and again in July.
“The federal government regulations pre-empt our regulations,” Eberle said in response to resident Tom Cuce’s questions at the July meeting.
Cuce said in June that the building plans do not meet township zoning rules.
“We don’t have the ability to require them to go through a formal land development process,” Eberle said at the July meeting.
“Don’t you have any kind of a say in this matter?” resident Barry Benninger asked.
“This project is being reviewed and all approvals will come at the federal level. They will not come at the local level,” Eberle said. “The federal government asks the applicant to work with the local government to the extent that it can and comply with the ordinances to the extent that it is able, but at the end of the day, they don’t apply to us and we don’t have the ability to approve or not approve the project.”
“We have to be able to do something, and I just can’t accept that there’s nothing we can do, that this is at the federal level and we have no power,” resident Christine Shelly said.
The local township meetings give the public a chance to come in and comment on matters of concern, Eberle said.
“The bad thing about local government is that when the state or the federal government decides they’re going to take the matter out of our hands and it’s going to be their responsibility and their decision, we also don’t get a vote in that,” she said.
The township will continue to communicate with FERC, though, she said, and let the federal agency know about the concerns being raised.
In other matters at the July 18 meeting:
• Board Chairman Jim Miller, who also chairs the West Rockhill-Sellersville Joint Recreation Commission, said changes continue to be made to improve the Holiday House pool.
A bocce ball court was installed last month.
“It’s been heavily used,” Miller said.
In the previous three weeks, the bocce ball court was in use for more than 40 hours, he said.
“Just sign the equipment out in the office and anyone can use it,” he said.
“We also added a ping-pong table,” Miller said.
The $1,300 ping-pong table was donated by himself and his wife, Ada, he said. The table was purchased from Royal Billiards who delivered it, set it up and gave a cover at no additional cost; that was valued at about $230, he said.
“We also have added bingo,” Miller said.
Donations from local businesses provide the bingo prizes, he said.
Bingo is at 3 p.m. Thursdays, he said.
Single-day pool admissions have increased this year by 40 percent compared to the same date last year, he said. There was also an uptick in season memberships, although that has since levelled off, he said.
“The word’s getting out, people really like it [the pool] and everyone’s been pretty happy,” Miller said.
• West Rockhill already has an ordinance covering all township park land, so that will be used for the Catch Basin Road property, along with adding that boating is not allowed there, Township Manager Greg Lippincott said.
West Rockhill bought the 137-acre Catch Basin Road property, which is in West Rockhill, last year from Sellersville. The property includes a lake that was a reservoir in the former Sellersville public water system. There have been reports of people boating on the lake, West Rockhill officials said in June.
“We don’t want people going out there boating before we understand exactly how the property’s going to be used,” Miller said in June. “It is a public property, but we need to make sure everyone’s safe.”
The township park rules include a ban on alcoholic beverages, littering, fires, damaging park equipment or plants, hunting or trapping on the property and out-of-control pets. The park properties are closed from 9 p.m. to sunrise.