Lehigh Valley

Bethlehem Township approves pipeline right-of-way

BETHLEHEM TWP., Pa. - After what seemed like a never-ending battle between Bethlehem Township – along with numerous other area municipalities – and PennEast Pipeline LLC., the township's board of commissioners approved a right-of-way agreement with the company Monday.

The easement gives the company the right to construct nearly 1,900 feet of pipeline to pass through the municipality.

"This is a bittersweet agreement," Commissioner John Merhottein remarked.

He added that the township successfully negotiated four main concessions as part of the deal, which nets the township $475,000 in fees for allowing PennEast access. The company will cross through approximately 45 acres of land located in Northampton County.

According to Merhottein the concessions include moving the pipeline about 100 feet west of Hope Ridge Drive and adding additional trees in the area. The pipeline will be dug a minimum of four feet under the ground surface as opposed to the three feet originally proposed by PennEast. He said the company also agreed to an increased number of pipeline inspections during and after construction.

"(The pipeline's location and construction) is significantly better now rather than the way it started out as far as safety goes," Commissioner Malissa Davis said. 

Township Solicitor Jim Broughal said there is currently no timeline on when construction would begin or an expected date of completion. He said although the matter is still being argued in New Jersey courts, Pennsylvania appeals currently have been exhausted and PennEast fully intends to build its pipeline in the Keystone State.

Right-of-way compensation paid to the township also includes coverage for property, livestock, timber, crop and property damages incurred as a result of the construction.

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