Proposed Change To Dallas Twp. Zoning Laws May Help Gas Companies
DALLAS TWP. — A proposed change to the Dallas Twp. zoning laws could make applying to build a natural gas compressor station as easy as getting approval for a carport at your house, according to an expert in the field who drafted the initial ordinance for the township.
Jack Varaly, a veteran planning consultant, said an amended ordinance changed by the township planning commission looks far different than the one he submitted in July 2017 and could allow gas companies to get permits without public hearings.
At a public hearing Tuesday night, he implored the township supervisors to vote down the current version or amend it by the time they are supposed to vote next week.
“I want to disavow myself to any association with the ordinance because I think it’s seriously flawed,” Varaly said.
Varaly helped draft a new township zoning map that restricted the areas of Dallas Twp. where gas and oil companies could operate in the future. It shrunk the available area from about 75 percent of the township to less than 25 percent, the southwestern portion near the borders of Harveys Lake and Monroe Twp.
His ordinance initially called for gas and oil companies to seek conditional use permits, which would require a public hearing so residents would voice their concerns to the zoning hearing board.
For some reason, he said the planning commission changed the ordinance to allow such companies to obtain a permit from the zoning office — or “permitted use as a right” — with no hearing.
Township solicitor Tom Brennan said the township can’t ban gas and oil companies outright, but can limit where they operate.
Asked by audience members why the planning commission would eliminate the public hearings requirement, Brennan did note that the state Department of Environmental Protection has a “very extensive permitting process” above what that township has.
But he made it clear he had no position on the matter and that he was just there to advise the public what changes were in the proposed ordinance.
No one from the township planning commission was in attendance.
Township supervisors are scheduled to vote on the matter at next Tuesday’s meeting.
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