Range Resources Corp. and a shale-rich township in southwestern Pennsylvania will enter mediation to resolve their difficulties.
"We have agreed to accept their meeting," Range spokesman Matt Pitzarella told NGI's Shale Daily last Friday.
The Mt. Pleasant Township Board of Supervisors proposed mediation in early April (see Shale Daily, April 13), after Range said it was revising its drilling plans in the Washington County municipality because of existing and proposed zoning restrictions on oil and gas activities.
A Mt. Pleasant official could not be reached by press time.
Mt. Pleasant is considering a new zoning ordinance that would making drilling a conditional use, rather than a permitted use. That new distinction would come with guidelines for how drilling could take place in different parts of the township.
Range said it doesn't mind the conditions, but believes the ordinance adds uncertainty to the permitting process.
Range is also upset with an existing ordinance that forbids temporary housing a work areas, including drilling sites. Range wants to house supervisors at well sites during drilling operations. Pitzarella described the housing issue as "a must" for Range.
Range sent two letters to local landowners in early April, one touting a model ordinance and the other hinting at problems with local officials. Range held a community meeting on April 6 to discuss the issues. Because the meeting came less than a week before a public hearing on the zoning ordinance, Township officials accused the company of trying to sway public opinion.
Following the meeting, state Rep. Jesse White, a Democrat who represents Washington County, suggested mediation and contacted Donald Ziegler, a retired federal and county judge specializing in dispute resolution. The Board of Supervisors offered to delay a vote on the ordinance for up to 60 days if Range agreed to meet with a "neutral third-party mediator."