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Pa. company seeks alternative approval for well

A Pennsylvania water company wants to avoid a confrontation with a local zoning board over a groundwater pumping station it wants to build in Newtown Township and had decided to ask a different entity for approval.

Instead of seeking permission in Newtown Township, the company instead will seek the approval from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission. It wants to build a station that will pump 228.000 gallons of water each day.

The company withdrew the request it had filed with Newtown Zoning Hearing Board in favor of the PUC. Had it pursued with the town route, the company would have needed a township zoning variance to build the facility of a lot deemed undersized.

The water company said a new well is badly needed to serve the increasing water demands of the community, plus it contends that a new well will make water less expensive.

The proposed project seemingly had drawn opposition from Newtown Township Supervisors, who agreed in July that they would oppose the variance request made by the water supplier. A number of area residents also were concerned that the well would negatively impact their water supply.

The supervisors unanimously agreed to ask the township's attorney to review how much they would have to pay to fight the PUC filing as well as the likelihood of a successful effort. They have said they have concerns about the company's plan to use only one-fourth of the minimum 10 acres needed for the well.

Balancing the needs of the public with community regulations is always tough. While it might seem that the company is trying to skirt township requirements, it has decided to pursue a path toward approval that is legal and possibly more efficient. The state utility rules allow the company to see alternate approval from the PUC.

Source: Bucks Local News, "Newtown Artesian revives effort to build pumping station, files application with PUC to circumvent township zoning," D.E. Schlatter, Oct. 14, 2012

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