Who doesn’t like a county (or state) park, or a newer trend–converting old railroad beds into “rail trails”–resurfacing them for walkers, joggers, bikers and roller skaters? We sure love and use them. This story begins happily, with York County spending $100,000 to improve the Old Northern Central Railroad tracks and a portion of the York County Heritage Rail Trail that runs alongside them. Where did the money come from–taxpayers? Nope. It came from the Marcellus Shale industry, from the impact fee levied as part of the Act 13 law. In fact York County has received, so far, nearly 3/4 of a million dollars from that fund–even though there’s no active shale drilling in the county–thanks to Act 13.
But the story ends badly, because quite likely starting next year, all of that impact fee money will disappear (see PA Supreme Court Won’t Reconsider Act 13, Impact Fee Now in Doubt). There will be no more impact fee money because seven townships in PA got their knickers in a twist, insisting their own layman zoning regulations were better than a set of statewide, uniform regulations designed by geologists and experts. So the seven petulant towns sued to toss out large portions of the Act 13 law, and it now looks like the impact fee will be tossed out too….