In Frederick v. Allegheny Township Zoning Hearing Board, et al, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court affirmed a local zoning ordinance allowing oil and gas operations in all zoning districts in the Township as long as they satisfied enumerated standards that were designed to protect the public health, safety and welfare of the citizenry.
Facts and Findings
CNX received a permit to drill a well. The ordinance imposes a 1,000 foot setback and prescribes notice requirements and operational limitations. Citizens owning neighboring tracts complained that the well was not compatible with agricultural and residential use, complaining about noise from pad site preparation and drilling activities.
The objectors did not challenge the Zoning Board’s fact findings. That was either a tactical mistake or a lost cause. One can’t tell from the opinion. The court noted these findings, among others:
- This is an area that has historically had gas production. There are 242 conventional gas wells in the Township, some of which employ hydraulic fracturing.
- One farm already has three gas wells plainly visible to persons driving by the property.
- Nothing will be visible to the neighbors after the well has been drilled and completed.
- The Zoning Board rejected as not credible the testimony of several experts sponsored by the objectors.