February 25, 2010

Public Hearing - Ordinance # 168

Chairman Baker said, This hearing tonight is to consider an Ordinance for the Township of Jackson amending the Jackson Township Zoning Ordinance as follows: permitting natural gas drilling in all Zoning Districts, deleting Natural Gas Compressors as a permitted use in the Industrial District and adding a Special Exception for Natural Gas Compressors in all Zoning Districts. Those of you who wish to testify will need to be sworn in. Please keep your comments relative to the Amendment and directed to the Board of Supervisors. Anybody who wishes to comment, please stand. Stenographer Lynn Ruffley had those wishing to testify stand up and be sworn in. Baker said, as youíre called upon, please give your name and address.

Rob Piper said, my wife and I reside at 156 Stoneridge Street in Vinco. I have two points to make tonight. . the first one has to do with my own opinion and Iíd like to present a couple of documents tonight. Iím not going to read them. Iíll leave them with you. . they have to do with the Supreme Court Decisions. . . Pennsylvania Supreme Court with Huntley vs. Oakmont Borough and Range Resources Appalachia vs. Salem Township. I also have information from Penn State Cooperative Extension and Iím going to leave these here with the Supervisors. I would not like to see any gas well drilling in R1 and R2 and the Flood Plain Zoning. I view this as a quality of life issue. . .I think thereís some health and safety issues there that we shouldnít have to deal with in those areas. Are you guys going to ask me any questions? Baker replied, simply comments. The information Iím providing supports what Iím talking about here as far as my objections. . Iím not objectionable to gas well drilling but I am against it in R1, R2 and Flood Plain areas. The second thing I want to offer up is Iíve been asked to read this letter and present it tonight from the Neighbors Who Care group which is located at 3188 William Penn Avenue, Johnstown, PA. The letter is addressed to the Jackson Township Supervisors. Dear Supervisors: At the February meeting of the Neighbors Who Care, this letter of comment was approved by those attending, concerning the above referenced subject and is respectfully submitted for your review and consideration. The current Zoning Ordinance is very effective in achieving its intended goal. Rules like this were established to protect the Townshipís qualify of life and control development. It is working. Neighbors Who Care respects the Supervisors efforts to try and keep fees low for residents to work through a Use Variance or Special Exception request, while maintaining a system of local government that doesnít have to raise taxes very often. Local controls of this nature should not be expected to be free and clear of costs under these types of municipal rules. Neighbors Who Care believes that the current Zoning Ordinance is not prohibitive of gas drilling activity and allows it through "Use Variance" rulings by the Zoning Hearing Board. That being said, Neighbors Who Care is also aware that there is significant associated expense to this variance procedure on the part of the Township for this unexpected boom in gas well drilling activity. Ways of controlling or cutting costs needs to be seriously explored without changing the existing ordinance in a manner that gives up too many needed controls. Neighbors Who Care understands that the PA Oil & Gas Act does preempt local conditions of how this industry performs, as demonstrated by the PA Supreme Court decision on Range Resources-Appalachia, LLC vs. Salem Township. However, we are also aware of the Huntley & Huntley vs. Oakmont Borough Council Pa Supreme Court decision that upheld that "overall restriction on oil and gas wells in R-1 districts is not preempted." Well location can be locally controlled. Neighbors Who Care is not opposed to change and realizes that the Zoning Ordinance is a dynamic document. It will need to be changed or updated from time to time. If changes to the Zoning Map needs to be considered, such as creating more R-1 in Agriculture Zones to allow for development and growth, while not being in conflict with the Ag Security Act, and changing Ag areas to Conservancy where there is new State Forest Land ownership, we would look favorably on this and comment appropriately at that time. Neighbors Who Care is not in favor of changing the existing ordinance as proposed and itís signed by the following officers there. . thatís all I have.

Steve Yurasek - 199 Polaris Drive said, what I have to say, when this Zoning Ordinance was drawn up, it was not done by property lines so what happened, you got an awful lot of residential ground that should have been Agricultural but itís not so now you come up with a problem. . .if you exclude gas wells in Residential areas, you either got to go back and re-zone the ground according to property lines or permit drilling in R1 and R2 Residential. . . .thatís all I got to say.

Bob Craft- 1033 Pike Road said - I believe drilling is a good thing for our Township and I believe if we donít go along with it and get to strict with them, theyíre just going to bypass us. I mean we have a lot of areas here that do have gas so why not explore it and let them drill? I mean, itís only going to help everybody.

Michael Ocilka - 224 Dishong Mountain Road said, Iíve been a resident of Jackson Township for over 20 years and itís become a tremendous community in which to live and it seems to be growing and prospering and the initial Zoning Ordinance seems to have had a tremendously positive impact in enhancing that growth and Iíd hate to see it rolled back and relaxed or changed to allow a few to possibly negatively. . . .the rights of a few to negatively impact a disproportionate number of people and I think that would certainly create a rollback in time and I think we could end up going in the wrong direction and no one benefits with the drilling except certainly that person whoís property is certainly being drilled. The Township doesnít benefit and it could create a lot of problems with regard to resources and quality of life for a lot of individuals and I certainly . . . I hope that you guys will take that into account when you make your final vote.

Barry Rouzer - 540 Kissel Lane said, I feel that what we have in place right now with Zoning. . it works. Itís a good Zoning Ordinance and actually it benefits everybody the way it is right now. Iím totally against any change to that.

Clair Michaels - 314 Wagner Road said, I think we should be able to drill anywhere we want to in this Township and as long as itís not interfering with anybodyís property and another thing. . that man there said, thereís more than just the landowner that profits from it. Itís the neighboring people too because they can draw out gas from under and they can get some money off of it too and another thing. They have gas wells real close to homes. . .you have a limit, the State has a limited distance that they are allowed to drill and thatís it and have you ever heard where any gas wells went off and wiped out a whole community?. . .or even houses and that? I donít think so because theyíre not gonna want to have that done. I think we should change this Zoning Ordinance and let them drill wherever they want to within reason. . within the State limits and that. Another thing. . Iíd just as soon see this whole Ordinance. . .Zoning Ordinance thrown out and down the river and never have it. Thatís the worst thing this Township ever did was put Zoning in and that.

Ed Porada - 2738 William Penn Avenue said, Have you guys ever taken into account the people who have wells. . .water wells? Will it impact the wells? Thatís all I draw on is a water well. If youíre going to let them drill anywhere they want to, how does it impact the water? I canít hook into the water. . .itís going to cost me too much. What happens to my well or my neighbors well? Mr. Yurasek I think has a well. Your son has a well. . we share the same well. How is it going to impact the well? Thatís all I want to know. Steve Yurasek asked, do you know what they did over there to protect the peopleís water? Thatís the thing. . you donít know how they put in a triple thing to protect the water so that thereís no way the gas could leak out or pollute the wells. Porada replied, I just want to be guaranteed that my water will not be impacted. Thatís the only way I have a source of water.

Chairman Baker said, at this time weíll close the hearing on this proposed Ordinance. Thank you.

Supervisors Meeting

 The Jackson Township Supervisors held their regular meeting at 6:56 p.m. at the Jackson Township Municipal Building immediately following a Public Hearing on Ordinance #168 which addresses gas well regulation in Jackson Township. Members present were Supervisors Bruce Baker, John Wallet and Mark Westrick along with Secretary-Treasurer / Manager Dave Hirko. Solicitor Bill Barbin was not present and Attorney Andy Gleason attended in his absence. The meeting was called to order by Bruce Baker, Chairman with the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.

Board Roll Call was taken with all three Supervisors present.

Executive Sessions:

Public Comments Concerning Agenda Items:

Westrick, second Wallet, to approve the minutes of the Board of Supervisors Meetings held on January 28, 2010 and February 11, 2010. Vote-3 yes.

Township Financial Report:







$   29,240.26

$ 72,358.71

$       91,861.85

$    9,737.12


$ 935,689.65

$ 14,430.91

$       29,830.60

$ 920,289.96


$   91,064.54

$        7.66

$         9,991.93

$   81,080.27


$   33,364.63

$  2,616.54

$         3,616.90

$   32,364.27


$   62,603.87

$        4.70

$                .00

$   62,608.57

Westrick, second Wallet to approve the bills for the period of January 29, 2010 through February 25, 2010. Vote-3 yes.

General Fund

Highway Aid Fund

Senior Center Fund

$     91,861.85

$        9,991.93

$        3,616.90

Township Police Report
The January, 2010 Police Report submitted by Police Chief Bob Fatula was presented. The figures for January were as follows: 911 Calls dispatched to Police: 239 Reportable Part I Crimes: 4 broken down as follows: Larceny-3 and Burglaries-1. Reportable Part II Crimes: 24 broken down as follows: Sex Offenses-8, Disorderly Conduct-3, Drunkenness-2, Receiving Stolen Property-1, Vandalism-1, Weapons-1 and all others-8. Calls Resulting in Cases: 10, Total Arrestees: 10, Total Suspects: 1, Total Victims: 8, DUI Arrests: 0, Traffic Citations: 6, Non-Traffic Citations: 8, Total Warnings: 0


Old Business:

New Business:
Chairman Baker
asked C. J. Webb, Jackson Township Water Authority Solicitor to explain the next two motions on the Meeting Agenda. Webb explained the request for the Township to serve as guarantor related to a $600,000 loan refinancing between Somerset Trust Company and JTWA. Webb said, First National Bank has closed its local branch which was only approx Ĺ mile from the JTWA office. As a result of this closing, the JTWA employees have been forced to travel approximately 10 miles to conduct its banking and have experienced numerous practical and logistical problems related to maintaining the depository relationship with FNB because of the added expense and lost time related to employee travel. Somerset Trust Company has now opened a bank branch at that same location. JTWA has determined that it would be much more convenient to use the local branch for JTWAís banking needs. A commitment letter related to the bank permanent refinancing in the amount of $600,000 has been received from Somerset Trust Company, the local bank that has opened a branch in Jackson Township. Somerset Trust Company is proposing a loan for the amount of $600,000 at the rate of Three and one-half percent (3.50%) which is less than the FNB proposed loan. The Bank Commitment Letter requires a guaranty from the Township, which guaranty has been approved by DCED, pursuant to the LGUDA.

Motion Wallet, second Westrick and approved by all to accept and approve the Resolution concerning rescinding and terminating a financing commitment from First National Bank and approving the substitution of the Somerset Trust Company as bond purchaser and to approve the commitment letter between Somerset Trust Company and Jackson Township Water Authority and issuance of the bond to Somerset Trust Company. Vote-3 yes.

Motion Westrick, second Wallet second by and approved by all to accept and to serve as Guarantor related to a $600,000 Loan between Somerset Trust Company and Jackson Township Water Authority, and authorizing the Township officers to sign and execute any and all documents and to do all other acts that may be necessary and proper to carry out and complete the Guaranty Agreement. Vote-3 yes.

Motion Wallet, second Westrick to accept offer of payment from Penelec in the amount of $8,800.00 to settle the lawsuit concerning movement of poles on Adams Avenue and Leidy Lane. Vote-3 yes.

Motion to adopt Ordinance # 168 which regulates gas wells and compressors in Jackson Township. This motion was not moved or seconded and a new motion was made. Motion Wallet, second Westrick to table adopting Ordinance # 168 which regulates gas wells and compressors in Jackson Township. Vote-3 yes.

Motion Westrick, second Wallet to approve Capital Reserve Fund bill list for the period of January 29, 2010 through February 28, 2010 and transfer $ 29,830.60 from the Capital Reserve Fund to the General Fund. Vote-3 yes.



Purchase Detail


Luther P. Miller Inc.

Fuel & Heating Oil

$  10,555.24

Smorto, Persio, Webb & McGill

Petroleum Development Gas Well Hearings

$    7,887.90

Richard Sutter & Associates

Central Cambria Coalition Phase II Planning
Business Park Project

$ 4,425.00
$ 2,175.00

David Murphy Real Estate

Land Appraisals

$ 2,250.00

East Taylor-Jackson Little League

Annual Contribution

$ 1,500.00

Keller Engineers

Business Park Project Engineering

$ 1,037.46


$ 29,830.60

Motion Westrick, second Wallet on approving the time sheets from January 24, 2010 through February 6, 2010 and February 7, 2010 through February 20, 2010. Vote-3 yes.

Other New Business:


Public Comments:

Steve Yurasek said, Donít you think that someone from the gas well drilling thing could come to one of these meetings and explain to the people the safety features that they put in to perfect the wells like drilling a larger hole, putting a casing in and putting a smaller casing in and grouting that casing so that when the actual well is drilled that thereís no leakage out in to springs or wells or stuff like that. Now they went down over 600 feet on the one on Benshoff Hill and they put this casing in so that nothing would leak out into peoples wells. Perhaps that would make a lot of people understand that theyíre just not hap-hazardly socking holes in the ground like they did years ago up on Dishong Mountain.

Bill Ragley said, Iíd just like for you to pass onto your employees my appreciation and my families appreciation for the hard job theyíve been doing all winter, especially on Griffith Avenue and Poplar Street where I live and my mother lives and all over the Township really but I wish you would pass that along. We really appreciate it and I know theyíve been working long hours and that kind of thing and if youíd pass that along, Iíd appreciate it.

Clair Michaels said, when they plow the road up there. . Wagner Road. . in order to go down Vintondale they have a hard time. . they donít plow that back like they do all the other Township roads and that and you gotta come way out and then swing down and the garbage dump pushes it back a lot of times. Why donít the Township truck back up and push that back so you can make the swing off to the left and go down to Vintondale and come back up? Chairman Baker asked, you mean going up and back down? Michaels replied, yeah. Baker said, weíll mention it to them. Michaels said, other than that theyíre doing a good job. Another thing I wanted to ask you, would it pay the Township to look into one of those. . .getting the blade that hooks on the side of the truck so they could push back the areas further or is it too large? Baker asked, youíre talking a wing extension? Michaels answered, yeah. . a wing extension. Baker said, possibly but whenever push comes to shove we take the grader out. It does a great job. . it makes everybody mad but it does a good job. Steve Yurasek said, it does an excellent job. Michaels added, I just thought it would cover a lot more area. Baker said, I donít think our trucks are big enough. Thatís the problem we have now. . they turn sideways when you start trying to push too much. Michaels said, I know by Wagner Road on there by the dump, itís starting to get pretty narrow. Somebody pushed it back once. Baker said, think Spring. Michaels answered, we can think Spring all we want but Mother Nature has her own mind.

Mike Nelson said, I'm with the Bureau of Forestry and I'm also a Township resident but I've been hearing some rumors that people think they're going to be drilling these gas wells up on State Forest Land. That's not the case. We have not been contacted by anybody for the Marcellus Shale nor have we had Seismic Testing letters sent to us and it doesn't look like we're going to have them anyway so I just wanted to get that rumor off the table.

Chairman Baker
announced, The Board of Supervisors next regularly scheduled meetings will be held on Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 8:00 AM and Thursday, March 25, 2010 at 7:00 pm at the Jackson Township Municipal Building.

Westrick, second Wallet to adjourn the meeting at 7:07 pm. Vote-3 yes.

Respectfully submitted,
David M. Hirko, Secretary