Friday, November 4, 2016

West Penn supervisors have a quandry - either protect their citizens and roads, or cater to a single business owner

In West Penn Township, the patience of affected residents has run thin with long term water extraction at a site near the East Brunswick border at Kepners Road.  The recent expansion by the owner of this operation to a new site only 2 miles away, at #1 Fort Franklin Road, has pushed some residents over the edge.

Tanker trucks associated with the #1 Fort Franklin Road operation have been reported to:
  1. Have destroyed the guardrail at the intersection of Route 309 and Blue Mountain Dr
  2. Pulled completely over the double yellow line and road shoulder of Blue Mountain Dr, when turning from Blue Mountain Drive onto Route 309 South
  3. Pulled over into and blocked both oncoming lanes of Route 309 North, when turning from Blue Mountain Dr onto Route 309 South.
  4. Be of the 50-ton configuration as well as the smaller 40-ton.
Let's take a look at the box that West Penn Supervisors are in, considering the ongoing battle of wits that has taken place in the past few years.

November 2015 Road Structure Engineering Study Findings
Let's review the results of the Road Structure Engineering Study that West Penn supervisors commissioned and was completed in November of 2015.  Only four roads were studied - Retreat Road, Dorset Road, Kepners Road and Blue Mountain Drive.

  1. Apparently, this study was done specifically to address concerns of Jay Land's water tankers finding their way from the existing site of MC Resource Development at Kepners Road and the new site of Ringgold Acquisition Group at Fort Franklin Road onto Routes 895 and 309.
  2. The study's recommendation was that all four roads should be posted with a 15-ton maximum weight limit. 
  3. While Retreat Road and Dorset Road could withstand the current (prior to the activity that commenced at #1 Fort Franklin in October 2016) traffic with a 15-ton restriction, Blue Mountain Drive and Kepners Road require an additional 1-1/2 inches of pavement to withstand the traffic at that time, with a 15-ton restriction.  No upgrades have been made to these roads since the study.
  4. Even with a 15-ton restriction and 1-1/2 inches of additional pavement, Blue Mountain Drive and Kepners Road still would not have proper drainage or shoulders.

West Penn supervisors have allowed Jay Land to continue operations
at #1 Fort Franklin, in violation of his permit
Jay Land's company obtained a permit for agricultural water extraction at #1 Fort Franklin Road.  He never filed a Land Development Plan, and was issued a Notice of Violation in March 2015.  That's a year and half ago.  Despite the Chairman of the Board of Supervisors informing a resident on July 2, 2016 that a cease and desist order was being prepared, that was apparently never issued.  Or that is being violated too.  It's hard to tell - residents report that supervisors really don't tell them what is going on.  When the doo-doo hits the fan, the supervisors say they didn't know either.  Ignorance is not an attribute.  Now commercial water extraction is taking place, and at least one resident's water quality has gone from great to shit.

West Penn residents report that supervisors have told them to go elsewhere to get relief.  Talk to PADOT, talk to DEP, talk to DRBC.  Go everywhere but the people running the township.  Don't expect anything from us, but we're doing everything we can.  What the hell - take some responsibility damn it.  50-ton trucks aren't allowed to be on the roads being used without a permit from both West Penn Township and PADOT.  Did you issue one of those?  Do you even know?  What's my name, what day is it?

West Penn Supervisors are "doing all we can" - like Jerry Lundegaard @ 1:44

I can't get out of my own way
So what is the box?  West Penn Supervisors have allowed a business owner to do whatever he pleases, their own road study shows the roads can't support the traffic from either of Mr. Land's facilities even if 1-1/2 inches of pavement were to be added, the added tanker traffic beginning in October 2016 is destroying the shoulders of Blue Mountain Drive (or the guard rail - pick your poison) when turning onto Route 309, and tankers are blocking oncoming traffic onto Blue Mountain Drive, Route 309, or both.

Here's the real problem:  Mr. Land's tankers are 40 to 50 tons.  The roads used to transport water from the Kepners Road and Fort Franklin Road sites can't handle 15 ton trucks even if improvements were made.  According to the study, Mr. Land should switch to tankers that don't exceed 15 tons, or cease operations.  He should cease operations at Fort Franklin Road anyway, because he never satisfied the conditions of his permit.  West Penn supervisors spent over $10,500 of taxpayer funds on this study, but they don't seem eager to do anything with the results that negatively impact Mr. Land, but provide a plan for securing the safety and integrity of the roads for all citizens.  The plan was to implement a posting and bonding program.

Do West Penn supervisors have the balls to make a single business owner accountable, in order to protect the health, safety and welfare of their residents?  Based on history, it is unlikely.