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Natural gas pipeline route discussed in Franklin Township

06/22/2015 12:29PM ● Published by J. Chambless

By John Chambless
Staff Writer
At the June 17 Franklin Township Board of Supervisors meeting, the route of the proposed Eastern Shore Natural Gas pipeline was spotlighted by Paul Lagasse, the chairman of the Historical Commission and Historical Architectural Review Board.
Lagasse briefed the supervisors about a June 2 tour attended by representatives from Eastern Shore. The meeting was attended by members of Eastern Shore Natural Gas and their contractors, the National Park Service, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Chester County Planning Commission, Natural Lands Trust and Archeological Survey representatives, as well as several township residents. Lagasse said that although there are five alternative routes presented, Eastern Shore representatives don't seem to be considering any routes other than what was represented on their original map. 
The Historical Commission recently sent a letter conditionally recommending that the pipeline be placed through the protected farmland adjacent to the Kemblesville Historic District, to move it farther away from the Historic District, and away from homes along Walker Road.
On June 2, the group hiked through the Franklin Preserve, noted that the pipeline would be run under a tributary of the White Clay Creek, visited the PECO right-of-way off of Hess Mill Road, went to the Peacedale Preserve and to Pennbrook Drive, where Lagasse said it was determined the topography wouldn’t allow Eastern Shore to bore under the creek. 
The Eastern Shore Natural Gas Company, based in Dover, Del., is proposing a new 16-inch pipeline that will accompany two other existing lines, but will be run to the east of the current lines because further construction is not possible at the original site. The expansion will allow increased capacity to meet demand for natural gas in central Delaware. 
The new 16-inch line would run from the area of Wingate Farms, southeast under Route 841 and south through Thompson Estates, crossing Route 896 and passing just a few yards south of the Franklin Township Building before rejoining the existing Eastern Shore pipelines that cross Franklin Township. The company already owns a right-of-way for its existing pipelines, but is seeking additional easements for facilities or temporary work spaces for construction along the pipelines. 
A letter mailed to Franklin Township from Eastern Shore in December 2014 estimated that construction work would not begin until June 2015, but that date does not seem likely.
In a phone interview in January, Board of Supervisors chairman John Auerbach said that the ground disturbance for installing the new pipeline "would be about 100 feet wide." Pipelines are installed in sections, he explained. Crews construct the metal pipe on a scaffolding above ground, then the pipe is lowered into a ditch and covered up before the crew moves on to the next section of pipe. Referring to his experience with installing pipelines of this kind, Auerbach praised the expertise of Eastern Shore and said, "These kinds of pipelines don't leak. It's as simple as that. They are monitored very closely. The biggest thing these companies have to worry about is somebody digging in their yard and hitting the line. Other than that, they are very safe."
There are several documents and maps related to the pipeline proposal, called the White Oak Mainline Expansion Project, posted on the township's website (www.franklintownship.us).
In other business, Ralph Olivier, chairman of the Planning Commission, reported that the commission had completed their revision of an ordinance dealing with horse-related activities in the township and asked the township solicitor to draw up a draft ordinance for review by the Planning Commission and Board of Supervisors. 
The ordinance deals with keeping horses in a residential area, with emphasis on parcel size requirements for horse-related activities, such as horse shows and eventing. If a few families want to have a small horse show, they should be allowed in the ordinance, but larger events that would attract more people are a concern to the Planning Commission. The revised ordinance will be discussed at future meetings.
Olivier also said that the Planning Commission has begun drafting an ordinance that would permit townshp residents to keep chickens in their back yards if they want. The commission welcomes public input on the issue. 
The subject of hunters trespassing on township preserves was addressed by the Franklin Sportsman's Association. The association's members suggested posting signs saying that trespassers will be fined for illegal hunting. The board felt that catching any trespassers would be difficult, given the size of the preserves and the fact that the Pennsylvania Game Commission is responsible for prosecuting illegal hunters, not the State Police. The board also did not want to post more signs at the preserves.
To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email jchambless@chestercounty.com.

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