Company to test for potential natural gas drilling in Monroeville



Monroeville will soon be the site of seismic testing to explore for natural gas.

Doug Garrett, of Cougar Land Services, a subcontractor working with Huntley & Huntley Energy Exploration, LLC of Monroeville, explained the process to council and residents at a July 11 meeting.

“We are mapping the subsurface for future development,” Mr. Garrett said.

He said the testing will take place in more rural areas of Monroeville, which include “small portions” of the municipality’s northernmost and southernmost tips.

Mr. Garrett said he does not know Huntley & Huntley’s long-range plans as far as potential natural gas drilling.

“All we are talking about is seismic testing and providing mapping data for them,” he said.

The testing can include exploring the areas with vibrator trucks, which are arranged in small groups on select roads to create sound waves.

Mr. Garrett explained that on larger parts of land, as long as there is a 325-foot buffer on all sides, charges may be set to further explore if there is gas underground.

“Yes, we do use some explosives,” he said.

He said a 3-pound charge measuring 3 inches in diameter would be buried about 30 feet deep then set to detonate. Mr. Garrett said the charge makes little to no sound when detonated.

Mr. Garrett said residents will be notified of potential testing in the area by mail and also by door-to-door calls. Residents may refuse any testing on their land.

In other business, council voted 6-1 to place several revisions to its home rule charter on the November ballot for voter referendum. Councilman Tom Wilson dissented.

The revisions of the charter include education and other requirements for the municipal manager, solicitor and police chief.

Manager Tim Little said not all of the revisions may make it onto the ballot in the fall, but whichever ones do not will be put on later. He said it is up to the county to decide the wording of referendum questions and how many revisions are placed on the ballot.

“What doesn’t go on this time will be first next time,” solicitor Robert Wratcher said.

For all the revisions of the charter, Mr. Little said, it is “going to take years.”

A home rule charter committee has been working on revising the charter for about a year.

At the meeting, Mr. Wilson said a “super-majority,” or 5 of 7 votes, should be required if council ever wants to vote to terminate its manager. He said this was based on council using a 4-3 majority several years ago to fire its manager and hire an administrative assistant for the manager position.

The super-majority was not recommended by the home rule charter committee, as education requirements for the manager would prevent a matter such as that from happening again.

“The first priority should be a super-majority,” Mr. Wilson said. “We don’t want to go through that again,” he said of the instance in the past. “We need the super-majority. Bottom line,” he said.

Councilman Nick Gresock said the wording in the revised charter states that any manager must have five years experience as a municipal manager or assistant manager as well as a bachelor’s degree, with a master’s degree preferred, in business administration.

“It basically says the secretary can’t come and sit there,” said Councilwoman Linda Gaydos, as she pointed at the manager’s seat.

After Mr. Wilson made a motion to add the super-majority language to the referendum, the vote passed. However, after voting, Councilman Paul Caliari said he did not understand the vote and wanted to change his. Councilman Jim Johns also changed his vote, and the final motion to put the super-majority on the referendum failed.

Residents can view the changes to the charter online at http://www.monroeville.pa.us.

Also at the meeting, subdivision, site plans and conditional use approval was given to Bechtel Plant Machinery to expand its facilities at 3500 Technology Drive. The company plans to construct a 90,000-square-foot addition and 630 additional parking spaces at its facility. Bechtel employs about 600 people and plans to hire about 50 more employees each year for the next several years.

Deana Carpenter, freelance writer: suburbanliving@post-gazette.com.

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