should municipalities be allowed to sell off parts of public parks?

12472521_1288480304498962_6317939821284350831_nWorth mentioning – there is an email circulating in Radnor Township in Delaware County concerning an old house and a Township Park owned by the taxpayers of Radnor. The property is called the Willows.

In this email the sender addresses a neighboring development and the residents looking for their support – the development is called Inveraray.

Inveraray is a bit pretentious, check out their website. They scream landed gentry but are they really? It’s quite the stucco land of Stepford actually:

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Anyway this person says that they want to buy the house and a couple acres around it, actually close to three and move there. I am not naming this person by name, their name is somewhat immaterial. The important thing is not the WHO but the WHY. They claim they are looking for a larger house in Radnor Township:

For the last several months I have looked for an opportunity to move into a larger residence with my family…. where I could again reinvest in an older property and turn it around to current premium standards we all love and admire.

 

This past week I submitted two proposals to purchase or lease for long term the Willows residence plus 2.25 + or- acres surrounding the residence for my family.

 

My plan proposes to reinvest in the manor house well more than $1.0 million dollars to modern livable standards.

 

It is my hope that this would be a win-win solution that would not cost the tax payers nor would it cost your beautiful neighborhood.

 

After all we, long term Radnor Residents paid for the 47 acres to stop development but certainly did not purchase the estate because a family lived in the main house.

I have had some astounding emails shifted my direction over the years but this one takes the cake. It’s like “Hi fellow rich people I want to move into your sandbox, won’t you kindly help me and I will have you over for tea?”

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The house is part of a public park. How could Radnor Township legally sell something that belongs to the taxpayers the could affect the rest of the park usage?

If this person wants to live like nouveau landed gentry, that’s terrific. Let them go buy a building lot over at Ardrossan. There are lovely lots for sale, correct?

And when you research how the Willows was acquired by Radnor (see Willows Ordinance ) you see it was done via condemnation, or eminent domain. In this case it was public purpose. They paid what? Like a million dollars for the land and house in 1973?  Was that even worth that back then? And it was all for a PUBLIC PARK.  So if that is how the land and house were acquired and flash forward to 2016 and they sell off the house and acreage around it, in the visual middle of the park to a private person can’t it be contemplated that Radnor Township is turning eminent domain for public purpose to eminent domain for private gain?

How can that even be considered as a solution???

10366001_1288480357832290_6348205829566592359_nThe Willows has been a problem for Radnor Township probably mostly due to past mismanagement of the property, and a lack of consistent maintenance, correct?  They refer to the house as a “mansion” and it was never a mansion it was just a house. And it is NOT a huge house with landmark status or special historic preservation status – it’s not as if it is on the NTHP list.

I actually know quite a bit about the house because a friend of mine went to high school with a grandson of the last owners of the house and I know a woman who is the granddaughter of the architect. The granddaughter of the architect (Charles Barton Keen) suggested at the beginning of 2016 that the house be razed and turned into a folly. (Read this letter.)

This isn’t happening in Chester County, no, but I am somewhat astounded at the premise.10402709_1288480391165620_9078402028615408367_n

A park that is a public park should remain a public park. And if a tenant can’t be found in the can afford to do the necessary upgrades to the house which I think would probably include updating the electrical wiring to more than knob and tube and making sure there was no lead paint or asbestos on site and Radnor Township can’t afford it why keep the house standing? Mind you I never say that about old houses but this is one of those situations where I just shake my head.

Yes it’s an old house but it’s not even spectacular when compared to other old houses in the area that are still standing. It has no real historical worthiness. It is not one of the important works of Charles Barton Keen. It’s just a house.  And I have always been curious as to the financial circumstances surrounding Radnor Township purchasing this in the first place. I don’t think anyone has ever seen a report of that.

If this house was at the edge of the park, the public park, I probably wouldn’t write this post. But this house is in the middle of a very large park and that sets a dangerous precedence for public parks anywhere.

Of course the issues with the house at the Willows also points to a larger problem and inconsistencies in historic preservation at local levels in municipalities through out Pennsylvania.

I love old houses. I like but not love the Willows as far as the house goes. But I love the park in which it sits and other things like the Skunk Hollow Community Garden. Turning The Willows into a giant donut by carving out the center so a private party owns it and then could even flip the property is not a solution, it’s a big problem waiting to happen on so many levels.  Putting a nursery school in the Willows is also a problem. And why is that nursery school really leaving St.David’s Church after all these years and who else were they speaking with who may have said no thank you?

The perfect solution was when a caterer wanted to rent the Willows and use it as a dedicated destination site. That was perfect because well, weddings were held there for years. But that fell through because of funding issues, didn’t it?  And that brings this full circle to the fact the Willows in past administrations of Radnor Township was not truly maintained. I mean who knew until recently about the electrical wiring still being so old? That is a fire hazard, correct? And what about the other issues? Is their lead paint and are their lead lined pipes for example? Has anyone ever heard about that definitively?

12742356_1288480367832289_375092838788559525_nThis isn’t an 18th or 19th century mansion. It’s a house. It was a house built in the early 20th century in the California style by a father for his daughter when she married. The Main Line has lots of those wedding gift houses and another one that actually was even more lovely and left to rot before it was razed was the former Clothier house on Buck Lane in Haverford across from the Haverford School Football field.  The land was empty for a long time but  new construction planned for it. Not sure if anything ever got built.

The Willows house has been a long time folly for Radnor Township, so maybe now is the time to actually consider it becoming one? Because if Radnor commissioners fall down the slippery slope of selling off land and a house taken for the public in 1973 as public propose to a private party that is a slippery slope to a great deal of unpleasantness. And my greater concern is it sets a dangerous precedence in Pennsylvania.

At the end of the day, sign me very glad I can’t see this hot mess from my window.

Here is the Main Line Media News Article:

Resident offers to buy mansion at The Willows for private home

Leslie Morgan of Wayne, a commercial real estate developer, has offered to buy the house plus two surrounding acres or lease it and make it her family residence. Morgan did not disclose the amounts she offered the township but said she would make her financial information available to the township solicitor or finance director.

“I would say to the taxpayers and residents of Radnor that it would be a shame for the Willows to be torn down or for the park to be overtaken by over 160 non- school age children due to a lease termination of their private business (the nursery school).”

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why I can’t support the sierra club for quite a while

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I did not use to have a problem with the Sierra Club, other than some of their fundraising campaigns can be irritating. But now I am going to take a close look at them and groups like them in the future because of something astounding I discovered by accident today.

What am I talking about? Their political endorsements. Who the Sierra Club endorses makes me question everything about them. And I think in a lot of cases non-profits should refrain from endorsing political candidates because eventually their poor judgment is noticed and noted. I respect and prefer non-advocacy or non-political endorsing non-profits.

I was told today that the Sierra Club endorsed Ken Miller for re-election for supervisor. And there it was on his website. And there it was on the Sierra Club Southeastern PA website.  Technically it was for the spring when he was still a Republican and not a KenOcrat.  Here is what it said:

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My goodness one would think the man was a saint . I like the part where they left out his part (and vote) as a West Vincent Township Supervisor in the whole failed eminent domain for private gain land grab of Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show in December, 2011. This was the debacle that cost then Executive Director of the French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust Clare Quinn her job. They did not like it when she as a then West Vincent Township Supervisor voted in favor of an eminent domain for private gain land taking.  She did not seem to get that when her day job was land preservation/conservation it was a bad idea to vote for a land grab as an elected official with her night job, I guess? Here is an excerpt from the article:

….The board of the French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust voted unanimously to end its more-than-five-year relationship with West Vincent Township Supervisor Clare Quinn, said Cary Leptuck, the trust’s board president.

“The board believes that Ms. Quinn’s actions as a West Vincent Township supervisor in condemning the Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show grounds represent a fundamental conflict with the trust’s long-standing mission of voluntary land conservation,” he said….This month, Quinn was among the West Vincent supervisors who voted to seize the 33-acre horse show tract by eminent domain, a decision that prompted a widespread outcry that included two politicians, State Sen. Andrew E. Dinniman (D., Chester) and Chester County Commissioner Ryan Costello.

The supervisors said they wanted to use the land for a park and ball fields. The horse show could use it as well, they said, but those affiliated with the show questioned the feasibility of that arrangement.

The conservation trust passed a resolution on Dec. 3, “opposing condemnation as a means of land preservation and community access.”

 

Here is hoping the French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust remembers all this and doesn’t endorse Miller this fall…or they will become a land conservation/preservation hyprocrite non-profit too.

So…the Sierra Club. How could they endorse an elected official who every voted for eminent domain? Seriously?

If the Sierra Club can’t do it’s homework, why should people support them? Eminent domain is not exactly beneficial for the planet now is it? (Of course how they tell the tall tale of eminent domain around West Vincent Township today is it was all misunderstood. They were just going to take the Ludwig’s Corner Horse Show to “protect it”, they wanted to put a CONSERVATION EASEMENT on it.  Yeah sure and I have a bridge they can buy…in Brooklyn.

They can try to dress it up and perfume it and tart it out a few years later, but eminent domain is eminent domain and politicians who vote in favor of such land grabs shouldn’t be endorsed by non-profits that preach a better planet, land conservation and land preservation.

Of course this isn’t the only questionable Sierra Club 2015 political endorsement. Take where I used to live in Lower Merion Township. They endorsed two candidates that are so PRO as in EXCESSIVE development they can’t possibly be green (unless they are nauseous).

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Oh ok because she could afford geothermal heating it’s ok to endorse her?  As for Manos, he’s done what exactly? Oh yes….like Liz Rogan (because face it they both got placed into office by the same people but that is a longer tale for another time) he has voted for so much development and so many bad pro-developer zoning overlays it is terrifying.

Residents were SO outraged by Liz Rogan being endorsed by The Sierra Club that a flyer went out in the spring:

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Here is an excerpt from the BACK of the flyer:

Let’s look at Ms. Rogan’s “green” record as a commissioner and as president of the Lower Merion Board of Commissioners. How has she impacted the LOCAL environment? First, consider her policy of encouraging development in inappropriate places from an environmental perspective. She’s enthusiastically endorsed huge development projects on Rock Hill Road (600 units – 330 being built now and 270 later on) and in the “M” District on the Schuylkill River in a FLOODPLAIN (about 600 units). Neither area is effectively served by public transit. This will bring many more cars, more air pollution and more urban runoff into the waterways. Is this green and environmentally sensitive? Hardly.

….Environmentally alert residents have worried about the continuing degradation of our creeks and streams in both the Mill Creek and Cobbs Creek watersheds. Storm water runoff from impervious surfaces, including roads and parking lots, is a major culprit. Ms. Rogan’s penchant for more impervious

surface through very dense development, in most cases, leads to more blacktop or asphalt parking lots. Is this green? We don’t think so…..

For years, residents have been asking the Township for stronger storm water management regulations and better remediation measures. Efforts to focus Ms. Rogan’s attention on this issue for years have been met with inaction. Now the threat of sanctions from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection – starting in 2018 – has brought about the creation of a storm water advisory “committee” probably too late to save these important waterways as viable streams. This is most definitely not green….

 

So.  Reading all this and knowing about these candidates PRIOR to knowing the Sierra Club endorsed them makes me question the efficacy of the Sierra Club and their moral compass as an organization. After all an endorsement should be made with careful consideration. Not with fluff and nonsense and who do you know and maybe they will get a pretty donation out of it, right?

If you are as incredulous and astounded as I was, here is how you contact the Sierra Club. These are national organization contacts. Obviously there is something wrong with the Southeastern PA Group since they obviously didn’t do their homework.

Anyway here are the contacts:

Contact Us

Sierra Club
National Headquarters

85 Second Street, 2nd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105
USA
Phone: 415-977-5500
Fax: 415-977-5797
Sierra Club
Legislative Office

50 F Street, NW, Eighth Floor
Washington, DC 20001
USA
Phone: 202-547-1141
Fax: 202-547-6009

General information: information@sierraclub.org

Membership questions: membership.services@sierraclub.org

 

So the moral of this story is to do the research….you know, like the Sierra Club should have prior to endorsing.

Development isn’t land conservation/preservation. It’s development, a for profit enterprise that gains municipalities a short time high of new ratables.

TDRs (Transferrable Development Rights) are not land conservation/preservation.

Zoning overlays partially designed by and for developers are not land conservation/preservation. They are just another way to shove in development.

True conservation easements don’t need to occur by using eminent domain as a “tool”. Remember, eminent domain is not a helpful tool, but those who utilize it are tools…..

Vote smart no matter where you live this November.

And look for other non-profits to give your money to in Southeastern Pennsylvania.

Save your local environment by changing the face of who governs you.

political turn-offs

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All yes the season has arrived. Not fall, but the season where we open our mailboxes to far too many political mailers. There is no subtlety involved as it is an almost daily barrage from both parties. My position is, save a tree don’t flood my mailbox. I also am of the mindset that I prefer not to get my email inundated either.

Today we received a giant expensive multi–page glossy mailer mailer from the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee. For Manan Trivedi.

Now I have met Dr. Trivedi, and I found him to be a very nice person, but he’s not the person to represent me. I did not feel when I lived in Montgomery County that a man who was from Berks County could really represent my interests in Congress. I still feel that way as a Chester County resident.

I also want to rid myself early of all the glossy mailers that are going to clog up my mailbox and recycle bin. So since it is September and this is my first one I called up the campaign number listed on the glossy mailer. The lady who answered the phone at 484-329-7907 could not have been more pleasant. But some guy who must’ve been her supervisor decided he wanted to speak to me. I’m not going to publicly shame this person because everybody deserves a chance and I respect people that want to work on campaigns and I know it’s tough. But I will say that somebody else should take calls from now on, this gentleman should not be on the phone.

I tried to explain to this guy why Dr. Trivedi was not a candidate for me. I also tried to explain to this guy why I don’t want to receive these mailers. I did say to him however if he really wants his candidate to have a good showing in Chester County, a public position on things like the Sunoco pipeline and eminent domain would be of interest to Chester County voters.

He then tells me how they went to a couple community meetings and they were “looking into it.” Since March, no less. I said what is there to keep looking into? I asked if his candidate was in favor of eminent domain? Does his candidate understand our fears about these pipelines and what they could do that legitimately terrifies residents out here? I asked if his candidate understood how a lot of us were on wells and how scary an idea that is when somebody’s talking about fracking and putting pipelines through communities along with potential dangers to all natural water sources and wildlife?

If you want a topic that has grabbed hold of Chester County residents regardless of political party this is it, right? He decides he then wants to tell me all about Ryan Costello and Ryan Costello’s flaws.

I didn’t call them to debate the other candidate. I also don’t like to be talked down to by a campaign office. And I completely abhor people who use poor grammar on the telephone and tell me that they are a Montgomery county resident and he understands how I feel. I live in Chester County, you couldn’t possibly understand how I feel as a Chester County resident, so unfortunately that attempt at political empathy fell far short.

I did tell him that I feel sorry for political candidates because of the gerrymandering which has occurred in the 6th Congressional District of Pennsylvania over the past years. But when push comes to shove, I want someone more local to me to represent me in Congress if I can get it. And while I might find someone to be a very pleasant person, it doesn’t that I find them to be the best candidate for the job to serve my needs as a Chester County resident.

I will be blunt, I also find Obamacare a hot mess. I feel the last few years of national politics have been embarrassing at times for any American no matter what political persuasion you are. When it comes to Federal level politics, you very rarely get the opportunity to vote for the “local” guy. And my local guy is Ryan Costello. And I will vote for him gladly. But because I think Dr. Manan Trivedi is a nice person, I think his campaign offices need an education.

I see no problem with people being excited and very supportive of their particular candidate for whom they are working. But they need to adopt more of a “the customer is right” attitude. They need to learn the subtle art of turning people to their position without getting irritated on the phone. After all, there are quite a few weeks between now and election day. And I won’t be the only phone call their offices receive.

I have decided that one of the things that is going to make me decide on candidates this fall is what kind of a position do they take about pipelines and gas companies like Sunoco in Pennsylvania? How do these candidates feel about eminent domain? In mid-September, a candidate’s political office should not still be saying that the candidate is looking into something. They should have a position and be able to clearly state it for the candidate. The Wolf gubernatorial campaign, for example, is very clear on where they stand about pipelines. And I can tell you quite honestly, I can’t good conscience vote for Tom Corbett a second time. Especially given all the donations he gets from oil companies, right?

I might be a Republican, but I do believe in a two-party system. I am also an inveterate ticket splitter. But a two-party system in Chester County is also about 17 shades of ridiculous once again thanks to the infighting of the Democratic Party of Chester County. Truthfully, to that end, I actually feel sorry for the Trivedi campaign because as a Democrat candidate he and other Democrat candidates may very well be tainted by the same brush that is the in-fighting in Democratic politics right now in Chester County.

Thanks for stopping by today. Save a tree by asking candidates for political office not to send piles of glossy mailers out. And if you are a Chester County resident, please ask your candidates offices where they stand on pipelines and eminent domain.

so sunoco isn’t sleazy and sunoco isn’t sunoco?

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We just celebrated the 4th of July which celebrates our freedoms in this country and apparently Sunoco officials don’t care for free speech and freedom of opinion? And maybe they don’t like that eminent domain word but what did they expect when they went to the Public Utility Commission to try to get around local zoning? Seriously?

There is this new article in the Inquirer about SuNOco, and apparently SuNOco isn’t SuNOco and isn’t sleazy? So is this pipeline is a mirage then? Are we imagining all the road disruptions and closures and all the public meetings are really the meeting of the quilting society or something?

I am very confused.

A rose by any other name and all that?
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Apparently SuNOco’s public image is taking a beating? Does that mean their retail business is feeling a pipeline pinch?

It is up to personal choice if Chester County and other Pennsylvania residents choose to patronize other gas stations, right? We don’t live in a communist or otherwise single state run country where we have no choice as to where we buy gas, do we? Did they ever consider in addition to image issues that a good percentage of the time their gas is also just more expensive than other gas retailers?

So now will SuNOco that isn’t really SuNOco be buzzing around changing the corporate branding on their pipeline property sites like the sign seen every day at a crossroads in Upper Uwchlan? And what of the Sunoco Logistics website with the teeny tiny Sunoco logo we all know so well?

And while they are answering questions, what is it precisely they do with endangered wildlife when they find it (or more appropriately it is pointed out to them) ? Someone told me they were told the wildlife (like bog turtles and such) is moved someplace and then brought back to the habitat in which they were discovered? Is this true and how do they know which wildlife goes where down to the individual creature?

This Philadelphia Inquirer article today gives many the vision of a corporate shell game doesn’t it? And is the talking head of the split personality oil company the same guy who used to be an amazing reporter for the paper now making him the news?

So who is SuNOco? And if they want a better corporate image maybe they shouldn’t be trying to force feed Pennsylvania residents a pipeline? Could it be a lot of this petroleum posturing is that this just isn’t residents saying no? Could it be SuNOco is a little nervous that politicians from all over on both sides of the political aisle are starting to speak out too? Could they be nervous that the residents objecting are growing daily in numbers and esteemed environmentalists are taking their side?

Sorry SuNOco, sorry SuNOco PR team, people are unified about not wanting you in Chester County no matter what you call yourselves aren’t they? Welcome to a public relations hell of your own creation and seriously what did you think was going to happen? That everyone was just going to be o.k. with your taking people’s land and adding flare stacks in densely populated areas? Did you think a county that has a large percentage of residents on wells wouldn’t be concerned about pipelines and so on? Maybe you have a friend in Governor Corbett but not everyone else is feeling so chummy?

Great article Philadelphia Inquirer!

Philadelphia Inquirer: Sunoco fights connection to pipeline firm
By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer
POSTED: July 06, 2014

Sunoco’s good corporate name is taking a beating these days, as community activists and bloggers post snarky statements under headlines like “Sleazy Sunoco,” linking the company to fracking and eminent domain …..in the hands of careless journalists and picket-sign painters, the companies all just become “Sunoco.”

According to brand consultants and public-image experts, Sunoco the fuel retailer faces a big challenge disassociating itself from the actions of its corporate doppelgänger…..Sunoco Pipeline, a Sunoco Logistics subsidiary, has asked the PUC to declare it a public utility to bypass local zoning restrictions. ….”Sunoco, Sunoco Logistics, Sunoco Pipeline?” said Tom Casey, a leader of the community opposition. “There’s a lot of confusion about who’s doing this. Who are these people?”

Casey had heard company officials explain that Sunoco Inc. and Sunoco Logistics are two separate companies, with different missions. Then a public-affairs officer handed him a business card that identified him as a Sunoco Logistics employee. The other side of the card identified him with Sunoco Inc.

“He has the same job with both companies at two different addresses,” Casey said. “That’s confusing.”……..If this bothers Sunoco, its spokesman, Jeff Shields, is not letting on too much.

Nor is the spokesman for Sunoco Logistics, the selfsame Jeff Shields, who said in an e-mail that the pipeline company “is proud of its roots with a company and a name that has represented good corporate citizenship and American prosperity for more than a century.”…Sunoco Logistics, which was spun off as a separate company, is still contractually obligated to support Sunoco’s retail operations. But its new ventures, such as the Mariner East project, are unrelated to its former parent company.

Both are now units of Energy Transfer Partners L.P., a Dallas company that bought Sunoco Inc. in 2012 and acquired the controlling interest in Sunoco Logistics……Sunoco Logistics could rename itself something else – say, SXL – to provide some cover for Sunoco. But image experts say crusader activists would see right through such a strategy.

“That would backfire on the company double time, because now the public’s suspicion of evil would be confirmed by the company’s efforts at deception,” said Rob Frankel, a Los Angeles branding expert…..Sunoco Inc. already has a long history of oil extraction, and so an association with a pipeline transporting hydraulically fractured Marcellus Shale gas liquids is not an image-altering event, said Oscar Yuan, a partner at New York brand consultant Millward Brown Vermeer.

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EMINENT DOMAIN ALERT CHESTER COUNTY: SUNOCO

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UPDATEyou can check out all the Sunoco filings with the Public Utility Commission by going to the PUC website and plunking in the case number which is P-2014-2411966

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I said I wasn’t going to write any longer about Sunoco and their insidious infiltration of Chester County due to certain personalities behaving counter-intuitively, but screw it, this is important.

I might be a relative newcomer to Chester County, but I am not a stranger to fighting eminent domain. I fought eminent domain all the way to Washington DC . I was one of many people who joined the Institute for Justice and their Castle Coalition arm and fought eminent domain a few years ago. This was all when a lovely woman named Suzette Kelo was fighting to save her little pink house. Suzette Kelo took her case all the way to the United States Supreme Court.

The case was Kelo vs. New London. This case captured the attention of the nation and took nasty eminent domain out of the shadows and into the full glare of public scrutiny.

Yesterday two articles came out and I thought about my original hypothesis. First an article came out I saw that said Sunoco was withdrawing their zoning thing in West Goshen.. Then an article appears about how Sunoco was just going to appeal to the Public Utility Commission.

So I sat there last night and read the articles and came back full circle to my original thought: EMINENT DOMAIN FOR PRIVATE GAIN cloaked as EMINENT DOMAIN FOR PUBLIC PURPOSE.

You see, if Sunoco can get public utility status from the Public Utility Commission (“PUC”) they can ride over the heads of any homeowner and municipality can’t they? With their public utility status comes the power of eminent domain, doesn’t it? They say power corrupts, and can we agree in this case it will indeed?

And then there is that other interesting Sunoco bit of news: a makeover in progress for the Marcus Hook refinery.

As per The Philadelphia Inquirer:

It is out with the old and in with the new at the 500-acre waterfront facility formerly known as the Sunoco Marcus Hook Refinery, now the Marcus Hook Industrial Complex.

Workers last week ripped down aging petroleum-processing equipment, part of a labyrinth of machinery that has produced gasoline, diesel, and kerosene for more than a century. Other crews built cryogenic storage tanks more than 130 feet tall with three-foot-thick walls that will hold the future: new fuels from the prolific Marcellus Shale region.

Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P., a pipeline company that bought the property for $60 million last year from its sister company, Sunoco Inc., is converting the site into a major center for processing and shipping natural gas liquids.
It In August, Sunoco Logistics won PUC approval setting the stage to convert its cross-state pipeline for ethane. PUC Chairman Robert F. Powelson endorsed the move.

“Mariner East not only links producers with new markets, but it also represents a link between the commonwealth’s citizens, well-paying jobs, and a more independent domestic energy future,” he said.

Now Powelson may be asked to play a role in a key vote on whether Sunoco’s plans can move forward. in a key vote on whether Sunoco’s plans can move forward.

So Sunoco was previously just shipping this stuff out of Pennsylvania, right? So if they start peddling the product to residents of Pennsylvania instead of just sucking it out of people’s back yards and corn fields and forests it looks better before the the PUC, right?

Even Moveon.org has gotten involved this is getting so bad. If you live in Chester County or in Pennsylvania, have you signed their petition ? (HINT: you can find it at the bottom of this post.)

The Inquirer has also published an article speaking about environmental groups intervening in Sunoco pipeline case. (And see this thing Sunoco filed the other day.)

As per the Inquirer environmental groups responding thus far are the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the Clean Air Council, the Pipeline Safety Coalition and the Mountain Watershed Association.

Now if I were Sunoco, the Delaware Riverkeeper Network alone would make me nervous. Which brings me to something I heard. Is it true that Sunoco has retained the former Philadelphia head of the D.E.P or something like that? Some guy named Michael Krancer now with Blank Rome?

A man I know and respect, the former head of the Lower Merion Conservancy Mike Weilbacher wrote about this guy last year in Main Line Media News:

Mike Weilbacher: Michael Krancer’s life after DEP Published: Wednesday, July 03, 2013
By Mike Weilbacher
Columnist

For two years, Bryn Mawr’s Michael Krancer sat on arguably the hottest seat in Harrisburg during one of its hottest times. Until April 15, he was secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, charged with, among other things, pushing forward with Governor Corbett’s election promise of full-speed-ahead fracking.

And he has been unabashedly pro-fracking, writing in a November op-ed piece that the “Marcellus shale formation is the global superstar of natural gas formations and… a key driver in true American energy independence.”

The fifth high-level Corbett official to leave office at the time—another, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources chief Richard Allan was asked to leave only two weeks ago—Krancer often clashed with the state’s environmental interests, the word “controversial” attached to his name in many headlines over the last two years.

I caught up with the former secretary, looking decidedly relaxed, last week in Saxby’s, hoping to probe the last two years with him—after all, it’s not too often a neighbor gets appointed to DEP chief. My goal was to let him tell his story in his words — not argue the merits of his policies, not debate fracking, not ask him the same questions he’s been asked by thousands of other reporters, but instead to find out his current and future plans, including a possible run for Pennsylvania Governor in 2016….On fracking, the core of the controversy, I observed that few Lower Merion residents likely support the practice, Southeastern Pennsylvania being a hotbed of anti-fracking fervor. “Once people go out and see it (fracking),” he replied, “it becomes de-mystified. The drilling rig is only there temporarily, and before, during and after the process you don’t even see the rig. And when it’s done, all that’s left is a piping mechanism.

“I maintain now,” he continued, that it can and has been done safely and carefully—that’s what regulation is about. We have to be careful. Like any operation, the environmental impact has to be managed—and people who do it spend a lot of time managing the environmental impact.”

This is a big article and I found it fascinating. And if this is Sunoco’s new white knight, how does that happen? Or is the DEP not so environmentally sensitive any longer? In just 2008 the PA DEP was filing suit against Sunoco and now this to contemplate? And do you remember what that suit was about? Wasn’t it a crazy 12000-gallon gasoline spill from a ruptured pipeline in Westmoreland County, PA?

So I have to ask was Michael Krancer ever really one of the good guys? And sadly what I heard is indeed true and has been verified by the Philadelphia Inquirer which said in an article today April 30:

Sunoco also filed notice Monday with the PUC that it had retained the Blank Rome L.L.P. law firm to represent it before the PUC. The Blank Rome team is headed by Michael L. Krancer, Gov. Corbett’s former secretary of environmental protection.

(So in case you wanted another reason why no one should vote for Tom Corbett ever again, here is yet another reason, right?)

Everyone should indeed sign the MoveOn.org petition linked below. But people in general need to raise hell with Harrisburg. Our state government is a cesspool of toxic waste water and no matter what our political beliefs, we need to act now. Remember all the horrors we have heard over the years about strip mining? Can it be contemplated that will be a walk in the park if Sunoco gets their way with the PUC? After all if they are changing up lawyers and changing strategy they are hunkering down to fight by any means possible aren’t they?

Eminent domain for private gain is heinous. And eminent domain for private gain cloaked in fake public purpose is even more evil.

Sunoco is digging in Chester County. Time to bring it.

Check out websites like The 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, the Institute for Justice (and they have a form you can fill out about eminent domain abuse), and locally the hot eastbootroad website, and Just The Facts Please on Facebook.

And if you want to contact the PUC they have this convoluted website, but here is the equivalent of the “office directory“:

Chairman & Commissioners

Chairman Robert F. Powelson Phone: 717-787-4301
Fax: 717-783-8698
Vice Chairman John F. Coleman Phone: 717-772-0692
Fax: 717-787-5620
Commissioner Pamela A. Witmer Phone: 717-783-1763
Fax: 717-783-7986
Commissioner Gladys M. Brown Phone: 717-787-1031
Fax: 717-783-0698
Commissioner James H. Cawley Phone: 717-783-1197
Fax: 717-783-9845

The Executive Offices

Jan H. Freeman, Executive Director Phone: 717-787-1035
Director of Regulatory Affairs Phone: 717-783-8156
Lou Ann Hess, Administrative Officer Phone: 717-783-8156
Fax: 717-787-3417

Office of Communications

Bureau Director’s Office

Tom Charles, Director Phone: 717-787-9504
Lori Shumberger, Executive Secretary Phone: 717-783-9998
Jennifer Kocher, Press Secretary Phone: 717-787-5722
Community Relations Phone: 717-787-5722
Fax: 717-787-4193

Office of Administrative Law Judge

Bureau Director’s Office

Charles E. Rainey Jr., Chief Administrative Law Judge Phone: 717-787-1191
Pokim Park, Executive Secretary Phone: 717-783-9959
Fax: 717-787-0481
Legal Division

Kim Hafner, Legal Division Supervisor Phone: 717-705-3822
Herbert R. Nurick, Mediation Coordinator Phone: 717-783-5428
Cindy Lehman, ADR Mediator Phone: 717-783-5413
Susan Hoffner, Case Control Officer Phone: 717-787-4497

I would also say people like Duane Milne, Dan Truitt, and Andy Dinniman need to be contacted. And if no one calls you back from their offices, contact them again. Elected officials work for us, not the other way around. And again, sign the MoveOn Petition.

If you have media contacts or contacts with any other property rights or environmental groups, contact them. Use social media. Don’t be shy. This affects all of us in Pennsylvania if Sunoco has their way with the PUC, not just Chester County.

CLICK HERE for MoveOn.org Sunoco Petition 

 

maybe it is time to tell sunoco to get the frack out of chester county?

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I am all for capitalism, don’t misunderstand me. However, what I don’t like is capitalism at the expense of where and how we live. And that pretty much sums up Sunoco and their quest for pipeline domination.

Take this timely news about Sunoco Logistics. And a gigantic oil spill attributed to their pipeline in Ohio…..that has affected among other things a nature preserve.

Huffington Post: Ohio Oil Spill: Mid-Valley Pipeline Leak Released More Than 20,000 Gallons Into Oak Glen Preserve

CINCINNATI (AP) — Federal environmental officials now estimate more than 20,000 gallons of crude oil — double the initial estimates — leaked from a pipeline into a nature preserve in southwest Ohio.

Meanwhile, Sunoco Logistics said Monday that the pipeline has been repaired and re-opened. Sunoco shut off the stretch of Mid-Valley Pipeline from Hebron, Ky., to Lima, Ohio, early March 18 after a leak was confirmed.

Sunoco spokesman Jeff Shields said under a federally approved plan, a specially engineered clamp was placed on the 20-inch diameter pipeline, which had a 5-inch crack that leaked oil. The clamp was tested before oil flow resumed Sunday evening.

Shields declined to say how much of the oil supply was disrupted in the last week in a system that runs about 1,000 miles from Texas to Michigan. He said the information is considered internal company business…..The oil leaked into an intermittent stream and acre-sized marshy area in the Oak Glen Nature Preserve just west of Cincinnati. Teams from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Ohio EPA and other federal, state and local agencies responded after Sunoco Logistics reported the leak at about 1 a.m. EDT March 18….. some small wildlife has been affected by contamination.

Define “some”? I have friends with existing pipelines going through their property where Sunoco is drooling to put more. These are more rural friends with land that looks like a nature preserve because it is so beautiful and full of wildlife and scenic natural water sources.

In some positive news on this topic, East Goshen this week voted to intervene along with West Goshen. I think it is SO important for these municipalities to go to the mat for their residents. Slowly some State Senators also seem to be getting involved, but my wish is they do more than write a few letters. Political resistance needs to be fierce. The time for polite is pretty much over.

I never thought I would think about this pipeline issue. But I am and someone left a very valid comment that made me think. It is on the Just The Facts Please Facebook page:

How did this argument become “Not In My Back Yard”? I appreciate the passion and concern but to say move it a mile down the road only shifts the burden onto another community.

That was never the reasons for fighting this to begin with.

The real issue is that a for profit corporation is walking over cities, towns, and communities on its way to higher profits for their investors. If we use NIMBY in this fight WE WILL LOSE.

For me it has always been about stopping the process and not allow Sunoco to steal from our state to ship 90% away. There were people in the Northeast region this winter that were freezing due to a lack of propane, while Sunoco stockpiled it. This should be unacceptable for everyone

I have to say I feel this person is correct about the NIMBY thing and makes several good points. Chester County communities should band together whether they are immediately affected or not. This is a “big picture” issue as well as being intensely personal to those affected right now.

NIMBY is Not In My Back Yard. I thank the good lord above I don’t have Sunoco in my back yard right now. But I could. Most of us in Chester County are all close enough to Sunoco and other existing pipelines. So I wholeheartedly support my neighbors’ efforts in neighboring municipalities — I don’t want this in my back yard either!

Sunoco Logistics as has been said repeatedly in the media is applying to the Public Utility Commission to become a utility for natural gas purposes. The cliff notes version is if they get this they more easily get the power of eminent domain basically to seize property when they want under the guise of eminent domain for public purpose. It’s not so public purpose, this is to positively impact their corporate bottom line so in my humble opinion doesn’t that make it eminent domain for private gain? How despicable, right? Do we work hard so we can live in beautiful Chester County so they can take our land and destroy what we have worked hard for??

Another interesting thing to ponder off of the Just The Facts Please Facebook page:

If you think that Sunoco’s desire to be honest should not be questioned, then here is something to think about.

In Sunoco’s filing with FERC (OR13-9-000) they state that they have already committed 90% of the product to ship (par. 5). That leaves 10% for domestic use. They also cite that FERC has not established a minimum percentage of capacity that must be set aside (par. 14). Sunoco claims there is no major market in the Northeast for the product (par. 4). Apparently the 55,317,240 (2010 census.gov) that live in the Northeast region are nothing compared to the Norwegian population of 5,109,059 (wikepedia.com) Our question would be if PECO claimed the same thing and wanted to ship excess electricity to another country would this then be alright with FERC. The answer would most likely be no. PECO is required to allow any and all customers to tap their lines. A Sunoco representative, Joseph McGinn—Senior manager, Public Affairs, has already stated when asked about tapping into the line “you cannot connect into it, but if PECO wanted to get it to you then that would be a possibility.” Sunoco Pipeline LP/Sunoco Logistics LP wants us to believe it is OK for them to ship our resource to another country, not pay taxes to the townships along the way, devalue our homes & regions, and destroy the place we call home only to put money into their investor’s & politician’s pockets.

Sunoco Logistics comes in and pays once for use of your land. You don’t get an annual rental fee, if you buy a property with a pipeline from them already there you get nothing, correct? Except if you have pipeline running through your property you get all the risk of having a pipeline in your backyard, don’t you? Which includes not merely environmental concerns but economic concerns as well, right? If you don’t think property values of residential real estate won’t be affected by a pipeline running through it, I would have to say my opinion is you are ever so sadly mistaken. It doesn’t take much to adversely affect a property value does it?

In Chester County a great deal of us don’t have access to natural gas to heat with. Why? Because the only gas lines are pipelines and are Sunoco’s and some other companies for their profit. They aren’t for residential usage and supply. We can have propane tanks, oil tanks, or heat with wood or wood pellets. But that gas is for other people.

Not only does Sunoco want to suck our natural resources out and ship them elsewhere and not give residents access, they don’t even pay their fair share of taxes for using the land and sucking it dry . Which is exactly why as a Republican I am saying people all across Pennsylvania should have yet another reason to send Governor Tom Corbett packing. Start with sending him a message in the upcoming gubernatorial primary. Write in Daffy Duck if you have to.

I have also personally decided to avoid filling up the car at Sunoco gas stations whenever possible. We have plenty of other brands and stations to use out here, and well Sunoco gas stations are the most expensive most of the time anyway, so it’s also being more economical. Yes, I am talking a personal boycott…personal choice and all that if you care to embrace the concept, right?

Another thing you can do is sign and send the letter available via the Chester County Community Coalition website to the Public Utility Commission. Power is in numbers, so the more people who take the time to do this simple thing, the better.

A website called ChescoPaGreen has a lot of information. I am a visual person so the maps they have really hit home. Chester County is literally all carved up by these pipelines.

It is time to stand up to Sunoco and the rest of big and small oil criss-crossing Chester County. The ratio of risk vs. reward is skewed in the favor of big and small oil and any politician or related company or person in their pocket. We as a collective of residents are bearing the burdens and the risks. Safety, property values, environmental concerns (how many of you out there depend on wells for your water?), and so on. We don’t see much in the way of benefits and these companies aren’t even paying their share of taxes let alone actually compensating people properly who have had these pipelines carve up their properties.

If you can’t go to meetings, please contact the Public Utility Commission and ask them to DENY Sunoco. Contact television stations and ask them to join our regional news websites (like PaNewz.com), regional and local newspapers like The Daily Local, Philadelphia Inquirer, and Main Line Media News and give residents more of a voice. Also contact elected officials. On every level for local to Harrisburg to Washington DC, but remember a lot of politicians take donations from big business and individuals involved. You probably can’t expect much from lame duck elected officials, but contact them anyway. Like Congressman Jim Gerlach, for example. He has plenty of pipeline near where he calls home in Chester County.

Again, I didn’t think this would be an issue I really cared about and I was somewhat ambivalent for a long time. But then I moved to Chester County. We live in a beautiful county and we have sacrificed enough already between developers gobbling up ever scenic acre they can get and existing pipe lines.

I am just thinking enough is the word of the day. As in Chester County has given enough.

Time to hit the pause button.

I don’t have a pipeline running through my property. But I could. That makes it more than enough for me as a Chester County resident to say “NO”. Please say “NO” as well.

Thanks for stopping by.

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sleazy sunoco

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So the photo above comes from a website called Protecting our Waters. It was taken after a Philadelphia protest in December, 2013. The protest was against Sunoco and the Mariner East pipeline, so I thought it was apropos.

Of course it makes me think if the pro-military and pro- peace folks can protest all the time unmolested in front of what I assume is the old courthouse in downtown West Chester, I don’t see why these folks rising up in East and West Goshen can’t do the same thing some day soon and invite the media.

Good old fashioned peaceful protests can accomplish a lot of attention grabbing.

My recent post on Sunoco and their little project has gotten me a lot of e-mail and even comments from folks fighting this in Dauphin County.

I have learned from Chester County residents who already have the older version of the pipeline a couple of interesting things: I thought (mistakenly and incorrectly) that if Sunoco used someone’s property that they paid rent annually to the property owner. I am told they don’t. I also wondered what happened when real estate changed hands. Apparently Sunoco doesn’t pay homeowners who inherit them in their backyards anything.

So basically, letting Sunoco in is like allowing cockroaches?

I wasn’t going to do anymore posting on this until I realized where some of the pipelines are actually supposedly going: right through the back yards of people in Marydell Farms in East Goshen who have properties that run to Boot Road. Those people don’t have backyards that are THAT deep.

Which brings me to something I didn’t want to point out: shame on East Goshen Township. All the environmental and safety issues aside, how can East Goshen officials just sit on their rear ends while residents have their property rights violated and property values potentially affected?

I go back to the thing about living out here and NOT being able to have natural gas lines for residential use leaving us with other energy choices like propane, pellet stoves, coal, oil, electric heat, but we can’t have natural gas to heat or cook with YET Sunoco can crisscross our county with pipelines that only THEY profit from? Residents HERE assume the risks to health, safety, and welfare. Residents here worry about environmental effects like will what Sunoco is doing affect those on wells and could it ever affect even public water supply? How does what they are doing affect our natural waterways like streams, creeks, rivers, ponds, lakes? How does what they do affect our wildlife?

And why is it Sunoco or other big oil companies doesn’t even seem to pay taxes on natural gas production in Pennsylvania? (Think of all the roads and schools that could get fixed as well as other things in Pennsylvania if stupid Harrisburg actually made these companies pay their way, right?)

Sunoco Pipeline plan draws political resistance Philadelphia Inquirer By Andrew Maykuth, Inquirer Staff Writer April 5, 2014

An elaborate plan by Sunoco Logistics Partners L.P. to transport Marcellus Shale natural gas liquids by pipeline across Pennsylvania to Marcus Hook is running into resistance.

The company’s subsidiary, Sunoco Pipeline L.P., last month filed an application with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to sidestep local zoning restrictions to build pump and valve control stations in 31 municipalities crossed by the pipeline.

Sunoco Pipeline argues that it is a “public utility corporation,” and that the PUC can exempt the construction of the above-ground structure from local zoning if it determines the buildings are “reasonably necessary for the convenience or welfare of the public.”….Two suburban Philadelphia state senators on Wednesday wrote to the PUC, contending that the exemptions would conflict with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision in December upholding local zoning rights over oil and gas activity….Sunoco has asked the PUC for an expedited decision. Formal protests and petitions to intervene are due by April 21…..The Mariner project involves converting an existing eight-inch pipeline that carried fuel from Philadelphia refineries to Western Pennsylvania. The project requires about 45 miles of new pipeline in Western Pennsylvania. Sunoco’s efforts to acquire rights of way by eminent domain have run into resistance.

And the thing is this: this issue is way bigger than East Goshen, West Goshen, or just Chester County. This pipeline is coming from where? Ohio through to Marcus Hook? And what about the huge issue of those flare towers? Like the one they want to build in a residential neighborhood in West Goshen on Mary Jane Lane???

And then there are all those eminent domain whispers. Ugly, truly ugly.

I never thought I would say I am glad I no longer live in East Goshen, but given all the people who might be affected by this there (including friends) and in West Goshen, I am glad I no longer live in East Goshen.

The reality is those of us NOT in those municipalities are watching this, because this affects all of us potentially. And what do residents around here get as a benefit or upside? I am beginning to think not much.

I guess at the end of the day I am thinking Sunoco is just be sleazy at the expense of Chester County residents and residents all across Pennsylvania.

People should be able to say no.

West Goshen crowd boos Sunoco plan By Kendal Gapinski Daily Local Posted 4/04/2014

WEST GOSHEN – Sunoco Logistics Partners L.L.C. was granted a continuance Thursday night of its zoning hearing regarding a pump station it wants to put in at the corner of Boot Road and Route 202, much to the objection of hundreds of residents.

According to zoning board solicitor Mark Thompson, Sunoco originally appeared before the zoning hearing board three weeks ago and asked for the hearing to be continued to Thursday night. Between the last zoning hearing and Thursday, Sunoco submitted a request for continuance of the hearing. Thompson said he believed the reason for the request was to allow Sunoco time to find out answers to questions raised during the last hearing.

The project in the township, part of Sunoco’s Mariner East pipeline, includes the development of a pump enclosure, piping, valves and a vapor combustion system to be 34-feet high, according to the zoners….The pipelines would be repurposed to deliver natural gas liquids from Marcellus Shale areas in western Pennsylvania to the Marcus Hook refinery in Delaware County, Pennsylvania and New Castle County, Delaware….Resident Chris Pielli spoke out after the decision was made, saying the board should have rejected Sunoco’s request for a continuance, forcing Sunoco to start the zoning special exception process all over again.

“Let them reapply,” Pielli said.

The board granted Sunoco’s request for continuance, and the hearing will be continued on May 1 at 7 p.m. at the township building. The board said that Sunoco will be there to provide additional testimony and witnesses for the record, as well as give others who have been made party to the hearing a chance to present their case for the record.

Residents fighting this you need to write every elected official (and I would include all the gubernatorial candidates as there is a primary coming up) you can think of and also contact multiple media outlets. Give this issue the high profile it deserves. Check out the Castle Coalition.

Chester County deserves better than this, doesn’t it?

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