Work to Rezone the Borough Negated
By Jim Caldwell
Allen Cohen, Jefferson Hills Planner/Zoning Officer was asked by Council at the beginning of the regular meeting, Monday March 12, 2012, to discuss Pennsylvania's new law regulating oil and gas drilling. “The bottom line is that all authority for regulating oil and gas drilling rests with the State EPA," Cohen said.
“Nothing that is considered or enacted by any borough can be in conflict with the new law [passed by the Pennsylvania Assembly and signed by Governor Corbett in February]”.
For months, the borough has had a Marcellus Shale committee in place, formulating a zoning ordinance with stricter guidelines on everything from where in the borough new leases would be allowed as well as noise, lighting and distance from other buildings for compressor stations. All this work is mute and negated with the passage of the new law. Cohen explained that there always has been a state law on oil and gas drilling, but with the onslaught of the Marcellus Shale industry and the fierce political questions of the pros and cons, the Assembly amended the old law to centralize power on the matter and all municipalities are subject to the new law, with no ability to zone their areas with conflicting standards set by the state law.
In effect, the committee was disbanded. Members of council expressed their sincere gratitude to all who worked the past months to have a reasonable approach to drilling in Jefferson Hills, and Councilman Scott Albrecht, in particular, asked that a letter of appreciation be drafted and sent to the planner and those who gave their time on this matter.
In another notable item among the financial decisions and resolutions that comprise a regular meeting was the motion to authorize Police Chief Eugene Roach, Jr. to implement the NIXLE community information service throughout the Borough. This is real-time service that sends information to an email, a cell phone or home phone concerning immediate disasters, warnings of danger or criminal activity to alert citizens. Hundreds of communities participate in the free service, but residents must sign up for the service at www.nixle.com. Jefferson residents may obtain more information on the borough website as well as a link to sign up. Chief Roach encourages all residents to consider signing up for this no-cost service.
Council adopted an ordinance creating an Environmental Advisory Council. Thomas Donahue was appointed chairman and both Thomas McDermott and Christopher Hess were appointed members of the council until the end of 2014.
Council passed the following ordinances and resolutions:
• Gave final approval for Chamberlin Ridge plan of lots, Phase 2C.
• Accepted an ordinance for the sanitary sewer serving the St. Thomas A’ Becket site plan.
• Authorized submission of a grant application to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for improvement at Beedle Park, and ratified a grant agreement with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for Peters Creek Stream Restoration as part of the Growing Green program, and
• Adopted an emergency operation plan for the Borough.
The council joined with SHACOG to award for the joint O & M CCTV inspection and cleaning to State Pipe Services, Inc. for $448,650.65 with the Borough's share of $130,775.75. By joining SHACOG on this matter, the borough saved thousands of dollars rather than going this alone.
Council also passed motions to:
• Award the bid for the 2012 Pavement Maintenance Program to A. Folino Construction for $349,651.73, and disqualified Victor Paving for not meeting bid requirements.
• Approve pavement to Soli Construction of $43,158.36 for sewer repairs.
• Authorize buying a zero turn lawn mower from Jefferson Hills Lawn Equipment for $7,999.99.
• Set April 21 as clean-up day in Jefferson Hills. The mayor offered to provide coffee and donuts at the municipal building for the volunteers.