By Janice Crompton
The leader of the organization representing 1,455 municipalities — 44 percent of the state’s population — said his group is openly supporting a contingent of local officials and individuals who are challenging state lawmakers and officials, including the governor, over zoning provisions in the state’s Act 13, the new law that brought sweeping changes to the Marcellus Shale gas drilling industry.
“Now that the courts have made their determination, we’re standing with that,” said David Sanko, the executive director of the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, a group that has been under fire from some local officials, who feel the organizations’s position on Act 13 was inconsistent and confusing and remains so.
Though PSATS initially supported the passage of Act 13 as “the best deal” they thought they could get from state lawmakers, the group has always opposed any infringement on local land-use decisions, Mr. Sanko said.
“[Act 13] was a compromise for everybody,” he said. “There was something ugly in that bill for everyone.”
Mr. Sanko said his group supported a lawsuit against the state from a group of seven municipalities, including Peters, Cecil and Robinson in Washington County and South Fayette in Allegheny County, along with an environmental group and several individuals, challenging parts of Act 13 that would have stripped local governments of their zoning and land-use rights regarding gas well drilling and its related infrastructure, such as pipelines.
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