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Durham will file for intervention on PennEast pipeline

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At the request of a township environmentalist, the Durham Township supervisors have agreed to file a letter of intervention with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) concerning the Phase One plan put forth by PennEast Pipeline Co. for a natural gas line.

Lois Oleksa of the township’s environmental advisory commission said the measure would allow the township to comment at any public hearing connected with the plan.

Both Supervisor Chairman Kathleen Gentner and Supervisor Bartley E. Millett voted in favor with Supervisor Richard Johnson voting against the request.

PennEast has filed an amendment with FERC to construct the federally approved PennEast Pipeline Project in two separate phases. Phase One would consist of 68 miles of 36-inch pipe, constructed entirely within Pennsylvania and ready to deliver natural gas by November 2021.

The Phase Two portion would include the original route in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with a targeted completion of 2023. Phase Two would continue to pass through Durham and under the Delaware River to New Jersey.

Under the phased approach, PennEast will have three delivery points in Pennsylvania: UGI Utilities Inc., serving the Blue Mountain Ski Resort, and new interconnections with Columbia Gas and Adelphia Gateway to serve the southeast region.

PennEast officials claim building the project in phases allows the company to meet public need in the short term in Pennsylvania, and in the long term in New Jersey by affording enough time for permit and legal issues to be resolved.

In other business, the supervisors did finally acknowledge they had downgraded the administrator/secretary job to part-time. The action was neither discussed nor voted on at a public session and although the supervisors said it was decided after the reorganization meeting in January it was not publicly announced until it was posted on email Feb. 14. The office hours of Dani McClanahan are now 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday and she receives no benefits.

McClanahan is considered an at-will employee. Township solicitor Peter Nelson said basically the supervisors “can do whatever they want” with their employees.

McClanahan had contacted the Upper Bucks Technical School to see if students could be permitted to perform some of the carpentry work being done at the Durham Grist Mill to prepare it for its 200th anniversary this year. As a result, the supervisors have been invited to tour the school, she said. Also, Lehigh University engineering students have been working on the mill’s water wheel.

It was also reported the construction start date for work to repair the washed-out area on Dogwood Lane is estimated to begin after May 1.


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