Small town denies request to build a methane compressor station

A town of less than 3,000 people has done what larger local governments could also do: it used zoning to deny a methane gas pipeline facility.

Jodi Weigand wrote for triblive.com today, South Buffalo denies XTO Energy request to build natural gas compressor station

South Buffalo Supervisors on Monday denied XTO Energy’s request to build a natural gas compressor station on the McIntyre Farm near Ford City Road and Grandview Drive.

The vote was met with applause and a chorus of thank yous from many of the 60 residents in attendance. Most of them spoke in opposition to the gas processing station being located so close to their homes in an area zoned residential.

“We’re very happy; they did the right thing,” said Craig Chodkowski, whose Ford City Road home is less than 500 feet from XTO’s chosen site.

He and other residents were concerned about noise and pollution from the facility, which was proposed to have four engines used to run the compressors located inside a building designed to muffle sound.

XTO officials could not answer Chodkowski’s most pressing question about a blast radius if something should go wrong.

That last part sounds familiar. In Searsmont, Maine, they didn’t stop a compressor station, and now they’re sorry.

This Pennsylvania town isn’t scared of a lawsuit, either:

The supervisors’ decision opens up the township to a potential lawsuit from XTO because the township’s zoning ordinance designates oil and natural gas well activities as a “conditional use” in residential and agricultural districts, township Solicitor James Favero said prior to the vote.

A conditional use activity “essentially means that it’s permitted,” as long as the applicant complies with zoning requirements and agrees to comply with conditions or limitations imposed by supervisors, he said.

Sure, the pipeline company could sue, and it might win. But that will take time, and it might lose, too.

However, I don’t think we have any such conditional uses around here, so there would be less grounds for a pipeline company to win such a case.

Five compressor stations are proposed along the Sabal Trail pipeline. Maybe some local government should look into what this small town just did.

-jsq