H&H Drilling in Upper Burrell Gets Final Approval, Raucous Crowd

Normally when you read about a raucous crowd at a public meeting dealing with shale gas, it’s raucous because of misbehaving antis. This time the shoe is on the other foot. Huntley & Huntley has plans to drill four shale wells in Upper Burrell Township (Westmoreland County), PA. As MDN reported in June, a landowner in Upper Burrell filed an appeal against Upper Burrell’s zoning ordinance that allows drilling in rural, agricultural districts (see Westmoreland Zoning Challenge Heads to Court, Delays H&H Drilling). H&H plans to drill a well near where the woman lives, and she’s arguing such drilling will violate the state’s environmental rights clause and “devalue her property.” The case was supposed to go to township’s Zoning Hearing Board, but all of the (many) lawyers involved agreed to instead move it to county court, making the process faster and less expensive. The same woman then sued the town claiming the town’s very right to issue conditional use permits in agricultural-residential districts is unconstitutional (see Frivolous Lawsuit Delays H&H Drilling in Westmoreland County, PA). Even though legal wrangling may prevent a final outcome any time soon, the town is moving forward anyway. The Upper Burrell Planning Commission voted two weeks ago to approve H&H’s drilling plans, passing it back to the board of supervisors for a final sign-off (see H&H Drilling Plan for Upper Burrell Still on Pause, Some Progress). Yesterday the supervisors voted–in favor of approving the wells. Supporters of H&H’s plan far outnumbered those against at the meeting–and they made themselves heard…

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