Upper Uwchlan Township officials have been scrambling to mollify what some residents believe is a change in the town-ship's position regarding a proposed pipeline route.At a Dec. 15 meeting, resident Steve McNaughton asked township supervisors to clarify their stance on AES Pipeline Co.'s latest proposed route, which has been described by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The company plans to construct an 88-mile natural gas pipeline north from Sparrows Point, Md., through Chester County and portions of Upper Uwchlan.
"They were legitimate concerns of residents, but we did not tell FERC what route we prefer other than that there was an adverse impact on the disposal field near the Lakeridge community," said Township Manager John Roughan Jr.
Supervisors' Chairwoman Catherine Tomlinson said the position of the supervisors sometimes changes as new information comes out about the pipeline route. She said the township's stance may also be different when there are changes in members of the board.
FERC's description of the newest alternate route, known as 12C, includes a pipeline material staging area near the Lakeridge Wastewater Treatment Facility, according to Roughan. Two other routes in Upper Uwchlan, known as 12A and 12B, have been described by FERC in the past.
"FERC has not made a formal decision on any of the routes," Roughan said.
According to McNaughton, the issue is that township supervisors in May informed FERC that they had no preference for any pipeline reroute plan. But more recently, residents believed the township's neutral stance changed when Upper Uwchlan sent two letters to FERC in October and November.
"The township wishes to reiterate its opposition to any reroute scenarios, especially reroute 12C, which affects the Lakeridge Wastewater Disposal Field," states a Nov. 14 letter Roughan wrote to FERC officials. "The loss of any disposal capacity at this facility will have serious longterm consequences for those residences serviced by this facility, which could result in rendering the residences uninhabitable due to lack of wastewater treat-ment/disposal availability."
Some residents took statements in the letters as a sign township supervisors were now showing preference to a particular route, according to McNaughton.
Roughan said he understands the concerns, but he said that by mentioning the adverse impact on the wastewater treatment plant, the township was not favoring any route.
Supervisor Guy Donatelli said McNaughton's concern was that the township's position on routes and alternate routes had changed based upon the township's concern for the Lakeridge facility. He said the residents' concern was that the township had now taken a position on an alternate route that would affect their properties.
Donatelli met with McNaughton and three other residents on Dec. 17 to discuss this issue. Matthew Brown, the town-ship's wastewater engineer, and David Leh, the township engineer, also attended the meeting.
Roughan said that upon further review, the township engineer believes the proposed 12C route won't disturb as much land as he originally envisioned.
"I think what came out of that meeting was that the township has been fairly consistent with its position, and I hope the residents were comfortable with our renewed expression of neutrality," Donatelli said.
The township plans to send another letter to FERC restating its neutral position about the pipeline, Donatelli said.
In addition, the township will express no preference of one pipeline route over another, he said.
"I'm optimistic the township will do the right thing," McNaughton said.
The pipeline company's plans were first presented to the township in 2006. Residents living in the Windsor Place development had opposed the company's original plans.