Monday, June 27, 2016

Is Polk Township the next target of Nestlé Waters/Deer Park? Rumors of "paid surveys" of residents at $20 a pop

Update 6/28 10am - At last evening's BOS meeting, the Polk Supervisors addressed a packed meeting of residents who had concerns over reports that Polk is being targeted.  The supervisors reported that the township has not been contacted by anyone seeking to develop a water extraction site in Polk Township.  There was no one present at the meeting who has been surveyed.

There are reports from multiple sources that someone has been soliciting paid surveys ($20 each) in Polk Township purporting to assess residents' attitudes towards water extraction.   However, it is reported that at some point residents are "educated" as to how water extraction is not harmful.  Are they also being told about the constant tanker traffic from pre-dawn to late at night?

Polk Township is in the same regional planning body "CJERP" as Eldred Township, the site of Nestle's ill conceived and very poorly designed project that was abandoned on June 8, 2016.  Now, just a few weeks later, it appears Nestle or some other water company may be setting its sights on lands that are just 5 to 15 miles away.  Nestle's thirsty underutilized Breiningsville plant needs even more water, now that the Eldred project fell through - keep the investors happy!

First came rumors that residents of Kresgeville were being surveyed.  Now, there are reports that residents along Route 534 are being surveyed.  In neither of these locations is water extraction permitted - it is considered "industry" throughout the planning region and zoning ordinances.  It would only be permitted on the eastern border of Polk Township with Chestnuthill Township, along Route 209.  See the Polk Township zoning map below - the bright blue area is zoned industrial.

Note that Polk's solicitor is none other than James "Jimmy" Fareri, the CJERP solicitor!  Watch out for him, Polk residents.  He's still claiming that the procedures were followed properly in 2014, even though he himself apparently never did his duty to review the Eldred water extraction amendment, and his law firm posted an ad for it that was modified to obscure its effect.  In addition, his law firm Newman Williams is representing the landowner in the Eldred Township Nestle matter - an adverse party to Eldred Township (a member of CJERP) - the very organization he represents as solicitor.   Eldred Township residents are partially paying this guy's salary, while his law firm represents a landowner in the township with adverse interests.  You could not make this up if you tried.

What might these surveys mean?  The most likely answer is that Nestle (or another water company)  is considering requesting a zoning map change - have some land changed to industrial zoning just for them.  But that's called "spot zoning".  Alternatively, they might go "all in", and try to get water extraction changed across the CJERP planning region to not be industry.  If Nestle is sniffing around, they must have contacted someone in the government.  Either that or they are hoping to buy off the town folk first.
There's plenty of cabbage for everyone in them there hills

This sounds like a heavy lift - and you can imagine that the townships will be scrambling to not provide for this use in their township.  But CJERP (or CJERK - "Circle jerk") rolled over in 2014 when Eldred's ordinance only was changed, allowing Nestle to pursue their failed plan.  And the Monroe County Planning Commission didn't do its job either.  Don't count the possibility out that Nestle or another company could be planning on changing the game in the entire CJERP planning region, receiving a solid push from the same clan of inept and/or corrupt morons that paved a path in 2014.

There is a Polk Township Board of Supervisors meeting on June 27 (TONIGHT) at 7:00PM.  You'd better go put your ass in the seat, and try to find out if Nestle or another company seeking to reap billions* from the natural resources in your township, while putting your water supply at risk and adding restrictions on uses on properties within 0.5 mile of such an operation**.

* In Eldred, it was planned to draw 200,000 gallons a day 7 days a week and ship it off site in 40-ton tankers.  That is $36.5 million in profit per year at a conservative 0.50 per gallon.   Over a lease of 25 years, that is roughly a billion dollars.  Not a bad return for a $3m to $4m investment, eh?

** Bulk ground water extraction for bottling is considered a public water supply and is entitled to wellhead protections, which restrict what neighboring landowners can do on their properties.  These restrictions extend to 0.5 mile from the extraction well under the PA Wellhead Protection Program.