SF drilling ordinance challenge tabled indefinitely

Published Jan 14, 2014 at 8:48 am (Updated Jan 14, 2014 at 8:48 am)

A challenge to the validity of South Fayette Township’s oil and gas drilling ordinance has been tabled to “no set date” said Thomas Ayoob, solicitor for the township’s zoning hearing board.

The board had been set to hear testimony from both the township and attorneys for Cuddy Partners, LP and Range Resources at a meeting Jan. 13. Nearly 70 people turned out for the meeting, many expecting a chance to speak regarding the matter. If a subsequent hearing is held, residents will then have that opportunity.

Cuddy Partners and Range Resources filed a substantive validity challenge to the South Fayette Township zoning ordinance as it deals with oil and gas exploration. The former airport property located along Cecil-Sturgeon Road is about 400 acres and owned by Cuddy Partners and John Alan Kosky.

Ayoob said at the Jan. 13 meeting that he was approached by Clifford Levine, attorney for Range Resources and Cuddy Partners. Ayoob said Levine requested a postponement of the challenge in general. The postponement was agreed to by Jonathan Kamin, solicitor for South Fayette.

“It is an open-ended continuance,” Ayoob said. In order for the matter to be taken off the table, a petition must be filed by either party and a hearing would have to take place within 60 days of that petition. The cost to re-advertise any hearings would be incurred by Range Resources, Ayoob said.

“Range has decided to postpone their application,” said Mike Iagnemma, chairman of the zoning hearing board.

After the meeting, Levine stated that he thought because of the recent decision of the Supreme Court regarding Act 13 that it may be beneficial to get more clarity rather than continue to debate the issue.

“Our case is very strong,” Levine said, adding that waiting would be “mutually beneficial” for both parties.

“We think our ordinance is 100 percent valid and we will defend it,” Kamin said. He said he “stood very ready” to defend the ordinance at the Jan. 13 meeting and will stand ready again when the matter is back on the table.

The Jan. 13 meeting was set to be continued to Jan. 14, but that meeting was cancelled as the matter is tabled.

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