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No Lebanon County approvals yet for zoning amendments concerning natural-gas pipeline construction

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An email to Lebanon County municipalities concerning proposed county safety regulations around the construction of a natural-gas pipeline went out prematurely, county commissioners said Thursday.

Lebanon County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz said she sent the email because she thought it had the recommendation of the county’s planning department for the construction of the Atlantic Sunrise Expansion of the Transcontinental pipeline.

However, Commissioner William Ames said it did not have the approval of the planning department and that it was merely a draft copy for perusal by the commissioners. Ames and Commissioner Robert Phillips said they hadn’t seen the draft of the zoning ordinance before Litz emailed it to the municipalities.

Ames said he heard about it at a dinner last weekend from a municipal leader.

“It needs to be known that we did not approve this,” he said. “There is a huge misconception in the community on this.”

The commissioners said they will reach out to each municipality to let them know the zoning proposal hasn’t been approved or recommended by either the planning department or the commissioners. The zoning amendment concerns the construction of pipelines in the county, including natural-gas pipelines. The proposed Atlantic Sunrise project runs through both Lebanon and Lancaster counties.

Officials from Oklahoma-based Williams Partners LP, which is building the pipeline, already met with Lebanon County officials.

The pipeline would create additional access for customers in the South to receive natural gas from the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania. Protest groups against the pipeline project already are forming, but none was at the commissioners meeting Thursday.

Jeffrey Steckbeck of Steckbeck Engineering and Surveying Inc. — who said he was under the impression the new zoning regulations had been approved — did come to the meeting to point out the negative impact on about 200 property owners in the county. That count included a property he owned.

He said the right-of-way restrictions and buffer zones around the proposed route of the pipeline would keep property owners from being able to build on their land.

But that’s far down the road, Ames said, as he hasn’t even examined the zoning amendment yet.

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