Updates from a Chester County Court Battle of People v. Toll Brothers

Via Neighbors for Crebilly:

BACKGROUND

Crebilly Farm in Westtown Township is one of the last large expanses of unspoiled, unprotected open space in eastern Chester County, Pennsylvania. It’s also land on which part of the Battle of the Brandywine was fought on September 11, 1777, with Hessian Jaegers – who were attempting a flanking maneuver of the American lines – taking artillery fire from the American position at Sandy Hollow near the Birmingham Friends Meetinghouse.

Yet despite this land’s historical importance, Toll Brothers has proposed a huge 317 unit housing development on these hallowed 325 acres where our forebears fought and died for our freedom.

UPDATE – Sept. 15, 2018

As you know, Neighbors for Crebilly has been permitted by Chester County Common Pleas Court to intervene in Toll Brothers’ appeal of Westtown’s denial of their conditional use application. Oral arguments in this appeal will made this Monday, September 17th at 1 pm in courtroom #1. Please join us if you can.

A quick word about Toll’s legal arguments which, as you can imagine, mock reality. Their lawyer, Greg Adelman, actually argued in a recent brief to the court that the Environmental Rights Amendment should not be applied to the “conditional use process,” a bizarre line of argument to say the least, and that our legal brief should be quashed. What Toll would have the court believe is that laws passed by the PA state legislature – including the PA municipal planning code of which the “conditional use” process is a part – must not be examined or questioned in terms of their impact on the environment.

In other words, the legislature, according to Toll’s lawyer’s flawed reasoning, can pass any law it chooses regardless of the harm it causes the environment, and the courts must not weigh in on those laws.

But outside Toll’s time-space distortion bubble, Courts strike down unconstitutional legislation all the time. As this conditional use application from Toll Brothers would permanently impair environmental and historic resources at Crebilly Farm, the Environmental Rights Amendment must take precedence over the conditional use process since the state Constitution supersedes all laws passed by the legislature.

That’s why the process of amending the constitution is so onerous: the amendment must pass the two legislative houses in two consecutive terms and then be approved by voters. Therefore, the unanimously-passed Environment al Rights Amendment (Article 1, Section 27) of our state constitution, outweighs  laws passed by the legislature. This amendment guarantees environmental protection for allpeople in the Commonwealth, including generations yet to come. So it is plainly ludicrous for Adelman to argue that the E.R.A. must not be considered in the conditional use process.

It was also curious that Adelman would cite as support for his argument any case from Commonwealth Court regarding the Environmental Rights Amendment since, in 2017, the PA Supreme Court threw out the Commonwealth Court’s three part “Payne Test” which had been that Court’s method of ignoring environmental protections afforded state citizens under the Constitution. Writing last year for the majority in Pennsylvania Environmental Defense Foundation vs. the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, “Justice Christine Donohue said the prior interpretation of the amendment, which included a 3-part legal test and [which] was in place for four decades, ‘strips the constitution of its meaning.’ The opinion clearly defines the role of the state as trustee, which the court said is associated with fiduciary responsibilities.”  (Quoted from PA State Impact)

Unfortunately for Adelman’s argument, the Pennsylvania Environmental Rights Amendment occupies higher ground than the conditional use process which is merely part of a set of laws which are informed and governed by our state constitution.

Spring Creek Watershed Action Plan (SCWAP) Update from Terry Melton

NVEC Member Terry Melton attended the SCWAP Water Quality Technical Working Group Meeting on  September 6, 2018, at 7 p.m. at the Ferguson Township Municipal Building.

Spring Creek Watershed Commission Project Page

Terry filed the following report. Acronym key below.

Attendees:

  • Janie French, Headwaters Charitable Trust
  • Dennis Hameister, Chair, Spring Creek Watershed Commission
  • Betsie Blumburg, Centre County Pennsylvania Senior Environmental Corps
  • Caitlin Teti, SCWC
  • Cory Miller, University Area Joint (Sewer) Authority
  • Jim Gazza, Coca-Cola
  • Deb Nardone, ClearWater Conservancy
  • Dave Christine, Biologist, PA Fish and Boat Commission
  • Ford Stryker, Spring Creek Chapter – Trout Unlimited
  • Brian Walker, Bellefonte Water Authority
  • Dave Swisher, PSU Office of Physical Plant
  • Jessica Sprajcar, River Keepers
  • Terry Melton, Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition

Janie began by explaining that the current “Centre Region Pollution Reduction Plan” (CRPRP) meets current MS4 requirements.

From the point of discharge, a 5-mile circumference is included in regulations. This plan was approved in 2017, therefore the data is quite current. The nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), total suspended solids (TSS) permitted under this plan meet the requirements of Chesapeake Bay EPA regulators. The EPA convened an expert panel to determine a global Best Management Practices (BMP) scheme that would work for any region, not just the Centre Region. Individual municipalities may have their own requirements that exceed these, but she feels the CRPRP is a well-done plan overall.

Two documents are part of the plan for this region. The plan was designed by an outside contractor. In particular, Table 1 (excerpted from the Chesapeake Bay report) lists impaired waters in the Spring Creek Watershed and the issues observed in each municipality.

In this CRPRP plan, various sites are expected to incorporate Best Management Practices (Map 2). Proposed BMPs are being imposed in designated regions of the highest priority (on the map, these are A#s); there are secondary sites with proposed BMPs (B#s), and other sites are having BMPs investigated at this time (C#s).

There is a 3-year time frame for these BMPs to be imposed.

Map 1 includes areas that are already regulated with BMPs and that are in the system, and have earned credits. There are currently areas that are not covered at all, and examination of these areas may be needed. These Maps are useful to suggest frameworks and strategies for Phase 2 of the SCWC update.

The primary question for the Sept. 6 technical group session was: Which source of data will work best for SCWC’s SCWAP update Phase 2?

For example, should we be using Water Resource Monitoring Program (WRMP) data, Centre County Pennsylvania Senior Environmental Corps data, water quality data from water providers, or wastewater quality reports?

Whereas “baseflow” is a good metric for quantity overall, what are the best metrics for quality measurement?

Some areas are already prioritized as high risk. Longitudinal data are the most useful, but is quality assurance and quality control of data a high priority?

What are the data metrics that are most important to the biology of the watershed? Consensus was that measurement of temperature, chlorides and chlorine might be top parameters. Nutrient levels are highly relevant, such as N, P, and TSS (levels of which are already being measured and must meet MS4 requirements). Cory Miller of UAJA wanted to measure the biology directly, such as numbers of fish/macroinvertebrates; Fish and Boat Commission measures primarily trout yearly.

The question was raised as to whether we are using data to make a plan or to decide how to make better data collection.

Cory Miller (UAJA) stated that we should be setting goals, such as “increase the number of trout” or “get stream off the impaired list;” start this by measuring the biology directly.

Dave Swisher (PSU Office of Physical Plant) pointed out that DEP won’t do a reassessment of the stream health parameters without a reason but the current need to update the SCWAP might be a sufficient reason. The assessment is formal, with many sites and abundant data collection and relies on their own scientists (will not accept data of other groups and collectors). They won’t take Centre County Pennsylvania Senior Environmental Corps data, for example.

Janie stated that the first combined group two weeks ago asked for a full DEP reassessment; she sent DEP the meeting minutes. Her take was that DEP is being standoffish at the moment. She is working with Tim Schaeffer (DEP Deputy Secretary for Water Programs) to try to get them more involved. Senior Corps data will still be useful to us.

Brian Walker (Bellefonte Water Authority) pointed out that the old DEP data is very outdated and that many improvements have been made since the previous report. Cory Miller (UAJA) noted that we have the option to use DEP monitoring locations to collect our own data. PA Fish and Boat Commission and others could cooperate to collect data and do studies and could use their protocols and perhaps student interns.

Ford Stryker (Trout Unlimited) asked if there are Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) imposed by DEP. If, for example, DEP did a reassessment and imposed new TMDLs this could negatively impact development potential.

Janie asked if wastewater treatment facilities are being challenged to decrease nitrogen output.

Cory Miller replied that nitrogen is a big focus now and that wastewater is much better than agricultural runoff in terms of nitrogen.

A bigger problem is on-lot septic systems (currently 3,100 in the Centre Region) and although Sewer Enforcement has been greatly stepped up in the last few years, the new plan should have something in it to address on-lot septic malfunction and monitoring. Cory noted that the calculation is that 25 lb per year of nitrogen is generated per system, and can be greater depending on the number of people in a household. He also noted that the amount of chlorine going into the watershed can be roughly calculated by measuring how many tons of salt are purchased for home softener systems.

In conclusion, the top metrics agreed upon for measuring water quality were: macroinvertebrates, temperature, chlorine, chloride, nutrients, sediment, dissolved oxygen (DO), and flow. There was agreement that quantity and quality are intertwined and that Senior Environmental Corps and WRMP data sets should be used.

The meeting concluded with a plan for both water quality and water quantity groups to meet again on September 20, 7 pm, Ferguson Township building.

Terry’s takeaway:

I felt this was overall a productive meeting but data needs to be collated from a number of sources (agencies) and put into a meaningful format to guide the group in designing a plan. At this time there is no plan to actually gather longitudinal and current data and assemble it into a central spreadsheet. I have a concern that nothing concrete is happening yet; though it is good to hear that a consensus on what metrics are most desirable, I wonder if it might benefit SCWC to retain a contractor to assemble and collate data from different locations to maintain a uniform data set that will provide a baseline for future decision-making.

Acronyms:

  • BMP = Best Management Practices
  • CCPaSEC = Centre County Pennsylvania Senior Environmental Corps
  • CRPRP = Centre Region Pollution Reduction Plan/ MS4 Plan
  • DEP = Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
  • EPA = US Environmental Protection Agency
  • N = Nitrogen
  • NVEC = Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition
  • P = Phosphorus
  • PaFBC = Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
  • SCTU – Spring Creek Chapter Trout Unlimited
  • SCWAP = Spring Creek Watershed Action Plan
  • SCWC = Spring Creek Watershed Commission
  • TMDL = Total Maximum Daily Load
  • TSS = Total Suspended Solids
  • UAJA = University Area Joint (Sewer) Authority

Spring Creek Watershed Action Plan (SCWAP) Update from David Roberts – Aug. 30, 2018

For prior coverage, see NVEC posts

SCWAP Water Quantity Technical Group Meeting August 30

By David Roberts

A meeting was held on August 30, 2018 by the Spring Creek Watershed Commission’s, Spring Creek Watershed Action Plan Phase 2 Water Quantity Workgroup to discuss the current state of the health of the watershed, to review current data, and to set parameters for analysis.

Janie French of Headwaters Charitable Trust facilitated the meeting by sharing data from the “Hydrological Setting of Spring Creek” and Centre Region Planning Agency estimates of impervious surfaces, and by guiding the discussion.

Participants from US Geological Survey, Susquehanna River Basin Commission and PA Department of Environmental Protection have relevant but somewhat inaccessible data and will be working to provide some collation of data on Spring Creek from their massive data banks.

The two work groups, water quantity and water quality, may try meeting as a single group following the Water Quality Workgroup meeting on September 6.

There were participants in the Water Quality group that probably had information on water quantity, and vice versa, so I think that is a good idea.

The water quantity group felt that biological indicators are a very important measure of water quality, so discussion of macro-invertebrate surveys should be one of the main topics of discussion for the Water Quality Workgroup.

Water quantity is also a very important factor for water quality.

There was some discussion that Spring Creek may be compared to the Valley Creek watershed at Valley Forge PA. The Valley Creek is sort of Spring Creek in miniature and has been critically degraded due to overdevelopment.

Spring Creek watershed may be approaching a tipping point with no return due to development. Control of development and direction of development into areas that have minimized impact to the watershed are essential to protect the health of the watershed.

There is a big question as to the actual area of impervious surfaces in our watershed.

One estimate places impervious surfaces at 15% of the total watershed area and another places it at about 8%. This is quite a discrepancy that must be resolved.

Impervious cover of 20% presents an unacceptable threat to the health of the surface water quality and is adverse to the survival of trout.

A DEP representative indicated that Spring Creek is approaching a critical point for water capacity during a 10-year drought condition given the size of the watershed and the growing population. A policy/risk assessment is needed to address the impact of severe drought. Drought is determined by the reduction of stream base flow below a certain level and by fluctuation of monitoring wells, all driven by the amount of precipitation within the watershed.

SRBC has some withdrawal limitations during drought conditions. Local use restrictions may also be needed during drought.

The SRBC has some data on surface and ground water withdrawal from the watershed, however the data is limited to large volume withdraw.

SRBC and DEP share data about water withdrawals, but again, some water usage is not measured such as from private wells.

Overall the withdrawal from private wells was not considered to be significant by most of the group, however hard data is not readily available. Private water usage may be estimated by determining population and applying an 80 gallon per day per capita usage figure for those not on a public water system.

Concern was raised that the location of water withdrawal must be considered along with the volume of withdrawal when evaluating impact of withdrawal on the surface waters of the watershed.

Beneficial reuse of water was discussed. PSU uses spray application of treated wastewater to return the water used by the University to the watershed. However evaporation and evapotranspiration release a portion of that water into the atmosphere.

It was estimated that PSU uses about 3 million gallons of water per day during the main school semesters. PSU is also moving toward beneficial reuse of wastewater for toilets and similar uses, however they apparently do not have approvals necessary to proceed at this time.

The USGS will be posting two reports on our watershed, a 2005 report and a 2015 report, to the Spring Creek Watershed Commission website.

The USGS reports are quite extensive and contain a large amount of data.

The Water Resources Monitoring Project will be posting their 2015 report which emphasizes thermal data and the role of geology in the watershed. Annual reports by the Water Resources Monitoring Project are available online.

There is still some question if there is adequate data and metrics to determine the available water quantity in the watershed. The actual amount of water stored and available in the groundwater basin will be especially important if extreme drought conditions are experienced due to climate change.

Concerning springs, although there is plenty of water quality data available there is not much flow data available. The flow data from the watershed is mainly from stream gauges and not spring gauges. The springs are linked inseparably to the health of Spring Creek and its tributaries.

The water quality of Spring Creek is very much impacted by stormwater which is tied closely to impervious surface problems. A confirmed figure on how much impervious surface is in the watershed is needed since there are estimates of from approximately 8% to 15+%.
The impact to water quality from both channeled runoff flow and thermal degradation is significant.

The temperature of Spring Creek runs about 60 to 65 degrees F and stormwater runoff can elevate the stream temperatures to over 70 F.

The second big problem from runoff is sedimentation which degrades the stream bottom’s habitats.
Also stream bank scouring is a big problem. The last big rain that flooded Spring Creek caused excessive bank erosion along Rock Road above the Spring Creek Canyon. There has been large deposits of rock placed along the banks since that storm to help stabilize the banks and more remediation is needed.

There was some discussion of Act 220, Water Resources Planning Act, and the lack of activation of some of the Act’s requirements.

Spring Creek Watershed Action Plan (SCWAP) Update from David Roberts

David Roberts, Chair of the Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition Working Group for the Spring Creek Watershed Action Plan, attended the first meeting of a new technical work group established by the Spring Creek Watershed Commission on Thursday, August 23.

Links to David Roberts’ meeting notes, SCWC meeting notes, a participants list, and project funding data, are below.

Key excerpts from David’s report:

SCWAP Goals

The overall goal is for Restoration, Protection, and Sustainable Usage of the water in the 
Spring Creek Watershed through an “integrated, one-water plan.”

  • Phase 1 was completed in 2003.
  • The current project is Phase 2, focused on project identification and implementation. The timeframe for completion of Phase 2 is within months, not years.
  • Phase 3 will be tracking new data and evaluating success of Phase 2 plan implementation.

Brief Overview of Spring Creek Watershed

Watershed includes Spring Creek, five major tributaries, and numerous smaller tributaries. The watershed covers an area of 146 square miles (approximately 43,000 acres) and touches 14 local municipalities.

Watershed population has increased rapidly since 2000, from 106,006 people to 130,748 as of 2017. 
Population data does not appear to 
include PSU University Park population.

Some streams are designated as high quality cold water fisheries.

Twenty-five (25) miles of streams and tributaries are classified as degraded and impaired including Slab Cabin Run and the main stem of Spring Creek, suffering impairments such as sedimentation and siltation; low dissolved oxygen levels; thermal modifications from agriculture, golf course, and stormwater runoff; heavy metals; organics; point source discharges; nitrogen; and total dissolved solids.

The Phase 1 Plan (completed in 2003) identified issues and concerns about the health of the watershed. Many of those same issues still remain.

NVEC requested current data on the amount of impervious surfaces in the watershed. 
Available estimates are a few years old and place impervious surfaces at approximately 15%. Other watershed studies have shown that over 10% impervious surfaces are deadly to native trout populations. The Spring Creek trout population persists due to the karst geological formations that provide cold water spring habitats.

Next Steps

At the technical work group meeting August 23, Janie French, Executive Director of Headwaters Charitable Trust and facilitator of the SCWAP Phase II project, presented an overview of the steps needed, including:

  • Determining the current health status of the watershed
  • Bringing together existing data and ideas in a useable format.
  • Identifying and filling data gaps

The technical work groups will meet several more times in September and early October to collate available data, ahead of a public outreach/public education meeting October 18.

More details on some of the participating technical work group members:

The Spring Creek Watershed Commision Water Resource Monitoring Project (WRMP) maintains 27 water quality monitoring stations in Spring Creek and tributaries recording water flow and temperature, and monitoring other water quality parameters such as inorganic chemicals. Reports are available online for years 1999 to 2017 and the 2018 report will soon be posted

The Susquehanna River Basin Commission is an interstate regulatory agency responsible for regulation of water withdrawals, including consumptive use and high volume withdrawals from surface and groundwater sources, and plays a support role for water quality and water protection issues.

Whitehall Road Regional Park Development Update – “Stop and Re-do.”

The Whitehall Road Regional Park boondoggle has been going on since about 2002, and there are too many horrible twists and turns along the way to summarize.

Collection of source documents below; if you really want more detailed history, contact Katherine Watt and ask for it. But honestly, the more you understand, the more disgusted you’ll be, so feel free to ignore the sordid past.

PRESENT DAY…

The Centre Region Parks & Recreation Authority will try to take another step toward realizing their taxpayer rip-off vision, when CRPR Director Pam Salokangas appears at the Centre Region Council of Governments General Forum meeting on Monday, August 27 at 7 p.m. to give local legislators a project update.

Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition’s Randy Hudson has been focusing on public accountability and design problems with the WRRP project, drafting memos to local governing entities and appearing at public meetings to comment.

Readers interested in reinforcing Randy’s basic message of “STOP AND RE-DO” are encouraged to attend:

  • Monday, Aug. 27 COG General Forum meeting (7 p.m. at 2643 Gateway Drive), and
  • Thursday, Sept. 10 Ferguson Township Parks and Recreation Committee meeting (4 p.m. at Ferguson Municipal Building Conference Room 2, 3147 Research Drive).

IMPORTANT PROCEDURAL NOTE:

Salokangas has successfully blocked elected General Forum members from engaging in full discussion and votes on WRRP issues for the past two years, by restricting all but one of her presentations (May 22, 2017) to “information only” or “of record” formats.

This has also blocked public comment before and after her WRRP presentations, because the topic is not deemed “actionable” for the General Forum, and therefore General Forum is uninterested in public concerns.

If you attempt to make a public comment just before or just after Salokangas’ presentation on August 27, your voice will be shut down by General Forum Chair Danelle Del Corso.

If you wish to speak about WRRP on August 27, make sure you raise your hand and head to the podium at the very start of the meeting, right at 7 p.m., for the public comment period set aside for topics “not on the agenda,” even though WRRP will be on the agenda.

It makes no sense. Welcome to your local government.

Other meetings to consider attending to speak:

  • Thursday, Sept. 16 COG Parks Capital Committee, 12:15 p.m. at 2643 Gateway Drive.
  • Thursday, Sept. 20, Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority, 12:15 p.m. at Bernel Road Park, 2501 Bernel Road.

BACKGROUND MATERIALS

Email message sent by Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition to Centre Region Council of Governments and Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors on Monday, August 20.

Dear Mr. Steff, Ms. Del Corso, Mr. Buckland, Mr. Miller, Ms. Dininni, Ms. Carlson and Mr. Ricciardi:

Attached please find a letter from Randy Hudson of the Nittany Environmental Coalition, reflecting our membership’s concerns with the proposed Whitehall Road Regional Park design and the processes used to prepare it.

8.20.18 NVEC Letter to CRCOG GF, FT BoS Re WRRP

Along with the letter, please find a graphic representation of data about community regional park preferences, collected in 2008 by the Centre Region Parks and Recreation Authority and collated by NVEC in July 2018.

2008 Community Park Survey Data

We also include a graphic representation of the relative WRRP budget allocations for rectangular field park development and for green/open space park development, based on cost estimates that were available to NVEC in July 2018.

July 2018 WRRP Comparative Budget Allocation Estimates

We are in the process of updating this chart in light of updated project cost data that became publicly available on August 16, 2018 during the CRPRA Board meeting.

It is our current understanding that:

Thank you for your attention to these important matters of public concern.

Community Survey 2008 – Regional Park Amenities

Community Survey 2008 – Regional Park Amenities

This is a graphic based on data collected by Centre Region Parks & Recreation in 2008, about what community members surveyed at that time wanted to see in the proposed regional parks.

From about 2002 to the present, soccer, lacrosse, softball and tennis proponents have been extremely engaged with CRPR staff and the CRPRA board to promote their desire for active sports facilities as a higher regional priority than green space/open space facilities.

This data set shows overwhelming community support for passive uses, similar to uses proposed by the Ferguson Township Board of Supervisors in a March 2018 memo to CRPRA and endorsed by Nittany Valley Environmental Coalition in a July 2018 memo to CRPRA, urging that acreage in the proposed Whitehall Road Regional Park be placed into conservation, pollinator plantings, meadows, reforestation, walking trails and other water conservation uses.

These graphics and notes can be used by anyone who wants to promote water-protective public land use at upcoming public meetings, especially the COG General Forum meeting on July 30, 7 p.m. at 2643 Gateway Drive.

Another point, not specifically highlighted in the notes on the graphic – is that regional park amenities data (both inventories of existing facilities and needs assessments) is extremely outdated.

It would make sense to urge COG General Forum representatives to postpone regional decisions about public land use at COG- and FT-owned Whitehall Road Regional Park until after the Regional Comprehensive Parks, Recreation and Open Space Study is completed in 2019.

From the RFP: “The purpose of this study is to evaluate and make forward thinking recommendations on the parks and recreation opportunities in the six Centre Region municipalities. A particular focus will be the facilities, programming, funding, and governance structure of the Agency.”

That two-year study process was funded by COG General Forum back in 2017 partly as a result of the TB/WRRP fight, which highlighted the lack of a comprehensive regional parks needs assessment and plan. The study will include an updated inventory of all park facilities (regional, municipal, school district, etc.) and an updated, data-supported needs assessment.

The bid process for a consultant is now open, bids are due by August 7, and the study should be completed by next summer.

Spring Creek Watershed Action Plan Update

In the short-, medium- and long-term, it appears that the best way for concerned citizens to protect our regional water supply and the ecosystems that depend on it for life, including the human population, is to adopt a watershed action plan that has strong enforcement components.

On July 10, the Spring Creek Watershed Commission (SCWC) kicked off the process of updating the Spring Creek Watershed Action Plan (SCWAP), which was abandoned in 2003 after Phase 1, due to funding and civic momentum shortfalls.

SCWC has created an excellent new website, including a page for coordination of the update process.

The update process is being led by Janie French, executive director of Headwaters Charitable Trust.

There were about 50-60 people at the kickoff meeting, held at Calvary Baptist Harvest Fields in Boalsburg. After an introductory presentation, the group was split into four smaller groups to begin talking about what we want our watershed community to look like in the future, and what actions could contribute to bringing about those results. Then there was a report-back.

One of the key issues identified by all four small groups was the need for watershed protection measures to be locally enforceable, to “have teeth.”

Ms. French then announced that the four groups would be meeting bimonthly during July, August and early September to continue the process of reviewing the Phase 1 report and setting foundations for the drafting of Phase 2. Public, large-group meetings will then resume, probably in September and October.

Broad community engagement is important, so if you didn’t go to the July 10 kickoff meeting but would like to get involved in the small group meetings, please contact SCWC Communications Coordinator Caitlin Teti at springcreekwatershedcommission@gmail.com and ask to be added to one of the small groups meeting for the next few weeks.

SCBWA Board denies Toll Brothers easement request

On Thursday, July 19, the State College Borough Water Authority Board denied Toll Brothers request for an easement which, if granted, would have allowed the developer to run a high-pressure sewage pipeline across SCBWA land purchased in 2008 for water conservation, with deed restrictions memorializing that purpose and running with the land.

6.20.08 PSU to SCBWA Deed

The vote was 4-1, with Bernie Hoffnar, Bill Burgos, Rachel Brennan and Jason Grottini voting to deny the easement, Gary Petersen voting to grant the easement, Jeff Kern not voting and not abstaining, and Emory Enscore absent.

The video from the meeting is available via CNET on YouTube.

It was a remarkable result, and the discussion was riveting, focused on the water board’s ethical obligations to protect public water.

The discussion also included the revelation that Toll Brothers attorneys threatened to file suit in federal court if the water board used its discretion as landowner to deny the easement.

Background reporting:

SCBWA Meeting July 19

The State College Borough Water Authority will be reconsidering Toll Brothers’ request for an easement permitting construction of a sewage conveyance pipeline across deed-restricted conservation land owned by SCBWA, at the water authority’s meeting Thursday July 19 at 4 p.m. at 1201 West Branch Road.

For background, please read May 1, May 7 and May 21, 2018 Bailiwick News reporting.

See also: Attorney Jordan Yeager letter to SCBWA re: proposed easement, legal implications of covenant on SCBWA land – 5.3.18 Yeager Letter to SCBWA