No Citation for Gas Company; Board 'Moving Forward'

Washington PA  Observer Reporter
23 February 2011
By Cara Host, Staff writer

WAYNESBURG - A natural gas company apparently finished its compressor station building near Khedive, despite not having final approval from Greene County Planning Commission.

Commission Chairman Shirl Barnhart said the board would step up enforcement efforts in the near future, once a compliance officer is hired, but for now, Energy Corp. of America would not be cited for the infraction.

"We're going to move forward," he said at the commission meeting Tuesday. "It's too hard to enforce what has happened in the past."

The county has hired a compliance officer and he should begin the job of checking up on construction sites next week.

The commission scolded Energy Corp. of America last month for starting the construction project before coming before the board. A representative from the Charleston, W.Va., company said he would ensure the work stopped.

However, the work continued according to neighboring property owner Pam Judy and she gave commission members photographs of what appears to be a completed building.

"They should have to follow the same rules I do," Judy said. "This company is waiting to see what they can get away with."

ECA built the 8,379-square-foot building over its compressor station to control the noise and Judy said the structure is somewhat successful in that regard.

"Before it sounded like a helicopter was constantly taking off in my backyard, and now it sounds like a tractor trailer is idling outside," she said.

But, she urged the commission to take action against ECA, otherwise it and other gas companies will ignore the county's ordinance.

ECA did not have to go before the planning commission when it built its compressor station, noted commission solicitor Kevin

O'Malley. Compressor stations are regulated by the state. ECA only had to obtain local approval when it decided to build the building over the compressor station.

"That building is supposed to deal with the noise and we want them to build those buildings," he said.

O'Malley worried that if the commission issued a penalty that was too harsh, it might deter gas companies from trying to muffle the noise altogether.

"This company can just do whatever they want to," said John DiBiase, another neighbor to the ECA's Khedive compressor station.

A representative from ECA did not attend the meeting. The building project will proceed through the approval process and a county planner will visit the site to ensure the stormwater management plan and other aspects of the building are acceptable.

Finding construction projects that are not in compliance with the county's planning code is not unusual.

Center Township supervisors told the county's planning department about a processing station that was under construction.

Planners contacted the developer, who claimed ignorance about local planning laws, and are trying to get the project in compliance with the ordinance.