Water pipeline info request costs boro

BY STACI WILSON

Montrose borough will have to pay over $2,700 if it wants to receive the documents council requested from the Department of Environmental Protection in December.

Prompted by concerns over the borough’s water supply council requested the documents before DEP scrapped its plan to have a water pipeline run from Montrose to about 14 Dimock township homes.

Although many of the borough’s original issues about the pipeline are currently resolved, council opted – at its Jan. 17 meeting – to move forward with their original request and obtain copies of at least some of those documents.

According to a Jan. 7 letter from DEP Agency Open Record Officer Dawn Schaef to borough solicitor Marion O’Malley, the agency estimates nearly 11,000 pages of material and one large map would be included in council’s right-to-know request.

The borough asked for all documents, including notes, emails, memoranda, contracts, applications, etc., related to the following:

* complaints of Dimock residents that their water was contaminated by gas drilling or other related activities.

* efforts on behalf of DEP to resolve to resolve those complaints.

* documents related to DEP’s decision that the Lake Montrose water line should be extended to Dimock.

* documents concerning any interaction between DEP and PennVest related to the proposed water line extension.

* documents from DEP to any other entity related to Pennsylvania American Water Company’s involvement in the proposed water line extension.

* documents related to PAWC as it pertains to Dimock residents regarding their complaints that their water was contaminated by gas drilling or related activities.

* documents related to any attempt by PAWC to acquire permits from DEP to extend the Lake Montrose water line to Dimock.

* documents from PAWC to DEP regarding the proposed extension of the water line.

After the state agency receives the borough’s payment, DEP will then process the request further to determine what – if any – of the requested information is available as public information.

The council took a first look at another natural gas drilling issue at its Jan. 17 meeting.

Prompted by a western Pennsylvania municipality’s request asking for Montrose to support efforts to curtail natural gas drilling in its city limits, borough council is looking into its own ordinance to address the issue.

At the Jan. 17 meeting, council members received a model zoning ordinance dealing specifically with oil and gas exploration.

In the sample ordinance, a gas well site, compressor station or natural gas processing plant would be considered a principal use by right in zoned industrial, agricultural or as open space.

By law, municipalities may only regulate land use and can not control operational methods of the oil and gas industry. Those operational rules and regulations are controlled on the state and federal levels.

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