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Decision on pipeline project looms in Upper Makefield


A proposed improvement project for a pipeline capable of carrying 4,200 gallons of fuel per hour is scheduled for discussion at the Upper Makefield Board of Supervisors’ Tuesday June 7 meeting at 7:30 p.m. at the municipal building.

Energy Transfer, a midstream energy company that transports oil and gas, wants to replace part of the existing fuel-carrying pipeline in Upper Makefield that also runs beneath the Delaware River into New Jersey.

Officials said Energy Transfer has already obtained various state and federal permits needed to perform the project.

Still, the company also needs local conditional use approval from township zoning to permit the proposed pipeline replacement within a riparian buffer zone, according to a legal notice.

A riparian buffer is typically a vegetated area that helps shade and partially protect a waterway from impact from adjacent land uses. Pipelines are allowed as a conditional use in such areas, but require conditional use approval, officials said.

An initial hearing on the conditional use matter occurred in April. The pipeline topic came up again at supervisors’ May 18 meeting, when it was announced that supervisors intend to render a decision on June 7.

Also at the May 18 meeting two residents voiced ongoing concerns about the project. There’s worry, they articulated, over environmental impacts, heavy truck traffic and potential noise from construction operations that at least one local thinks could exceed decibel levels allowed by the local ordinance.

Representatives for Energy Transfer have said that sound walls would help protect against the noise. Project leaders will have to put sedimentation and erosion control measures in place, they said. The old pipe would reportedly be purged, cleaned and filled with grout.

In other news from the May 18 meeting, Upper Makefield Police Chief Mark Schmidt praised township police officers, as well as well officers from the neighboring police departments of Lower Makefield, Newtown Borough, Newtown Township and Solebury, for what he described as a highly professional, collaborative response to an alleged double homicide that occurred in Upper Makefield on Monday May, 2.

Schmidt noted that services from the Bucks County Crisis Intervention team were made available to officers who handled the suspected murders, which involved a 38-year-old Upper Makefield woman, Trinh T. Nguyen, allegedly shooting her two sons. Officers arrested Nguyen and she remains incarcerated awaiting prosecution.

“It was a very difficult day,” said Supervisor Chairman Tom Cino. “Your team rose to the occasion and did what had to be done under very difficult circumstances” Cino told Schmidt.