2-26-11 From the Observer-Reporter.com
Attorneys accuse Robinson officials of lying
By Christie Campbell Staff writer email@example.com
This article has been read 2112 times.
McDONALD - Attorneys for a natural gas gathering and processing company claimed Monday night that Robinson Township officials lied when they said a gas facility was constructed without the proper permits.
The comments came during a four-hour public hearing on subdivision and land development approval for a dew point control facility on Bigger Road. At times, the hearing became contentious as lawyers for Laurel Mountain Midstream Operating LLC claimed the township has been acting in bad faith and threatened to file a lawsuit in federal court.
The dew point control facility was built by Atlas Energy and later taken over by Laurel Mountain. Shawn Gallagher, an attorney representing Laurel Mountain, provided 57 exhibits, many of them e-mails, that detailed numerous attempts to follow township guidelines and rectify township claims of deficiencies and violations at the gas facility.
The company submitted six applications to the township's planning commission. But supervisors Chairman Brian Coppola said the only application the township received was one dated Nov. 5, 2010. He pointed out some applications were never dated or signed and said the township's zoning officer would not accept an unsigned application.
"The only thing that's missing is a signature? That's laughable," said Gallagher, and a matter that could have been settled by fax, added attorney Raj Basi, in-house counsel for Laurel Mountain.
"I think we've been stonewalled since May," Basi said. "We've been told 'just do two more things and you're done,' and we've done those things and then it's three more things and then it's 134 things. It's been a moving target."
Although Laurel Mountain had been told the facility was built without proper permits, testimony from Scott Kohner with Atlas America was provided that an application was submitted by Atlas to the township. Kohner claimed the township gave zoning and land development approval for a wet gas compressor station in December 2007. Laurel Mountain took over its operations in 2009 and was told then that Atlas had never received permission to operate the plant.
Basi has requested paperwork back to 2007 but was told the township lost it.
"There are no files because you didn't apply for them," Coppola said.
"You said there were no applications and, frankly, there were, and that was a bald-faced lie," Basi replied.
Basi testified that he had to fly an engineer to Pittsburgh to do a sound study at the facility, a requirement not even contained in the township ordinance.
Some confusion stemmed from whether the dew point control facility is a compressor station or a processing plant under terms in the township's zoning ordinance. While Coppola said Laurel Mountain had failed to address 90 percent of the ordinance, Basi replied that 90 percent of the ordinance does not apply.
"All we want is compliance with the ordinance," Coppola said.
"Let me be clear: We have submitted everything the township requested," Basi replied.
The hearing was continued to the supervisors' next meeting March 14.