Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

Four Townships Say They’re Still Owed Impact Fee Money

Susan Phillips / StateImpact Pennsylvania

The Robinson Township Municipal building in Washington County. Robinson Township is a plaintiff in a case to overturn local zoning restrictions in Act 13. The township's share of the impact fee has been withheld.

Four Pennsylvania townships that have had their impact fee payments withheld say the Public Utility Commission has no right to deny them the money authorized by the state’s new drilling law. Those same four municipalities have sued to have aspects of the new law, Act 13, overturned. A state appeals court ruled in their favor, saying the provision of Act 13 that denies local municipalities from passing their own zoning rules regarding drilling activity, is unconstitutional. The state has appealed that decision to the Supreme Court. The New York Times has more:

The townships — Cecil, Robinson, South Fayette and Mount Pleasant — are scheduled to receive a combined $986,000 that could be used for projects like road repair, sewer construction or inspection of gas facilities.

But the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, which administers the impact fee, said it was withholding payment to the townships until it resolved five “requests for review” that were filed by four local landowners and by Range Resources, a Texas drilling company that has been active in Pennsylvania.

Jennifer Kocher, a commission spokeswoman, said the payments were not being held because of the legal case.

“This has nothing to do with the pending court proceedings but rather the proceedings before the P.U.C. where local residents and producers have requested a review of the municipalities’ ordinances,” Ms. Kocher wrote in an e-mail.

Under the new drilling law, the PUC is charged with deciding whether or not local zoning ordinances comply with state law. If not, then impact fee money can be withheld.

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