Act 13 proposal unlikely to have local impact

A bill in the General Assembly aimed at requiring counties to permit drilling on county-owned land or risk their impact fee funding is likely to have little impact locally.

The bill is coming from Sen. Gene Yaw (R-Susquehanna and Union counties).

The provision “would prohibit counties that ban natural gas development under county-owned land from receiving their county share of Impact Fee drilling funds or being eligible applicants for Marcellus Legacy Fund grants administered by the Commonwealth Financing Authority,” according to a legislative memo.

While it’s unlikely the county would take such a step, it’s a largely moot point because Warren County government does not own much property.

There are just a handful in the county’s assessment system as owned by the county or the Warren County Commissioners.

They include the county warehouse, emergency radio tower sites as well as properties that came into the county’s ownership from a convoluted drug forfeiture in addition to the county courthouse and District Judge Raymond Zydonik’s Hickory Street office.

Also included is property at the Farm Colony and a West Fifth Avenue parcel.

The Farm Colony is by far the largest at 31.67 acres.

Act 13 funds come in three separate streams — the impact fee with 13 eligible uses, legacy funds for local bridge work (about $40,000 annually) and a third bucket of funds for environmental initiatives including open space, greenway and beautification projects.

Projects that the county commissioners have supported with Act 13 funds recently include funding for improvements to the old hardware store space in Tidioute into a community center, Lacy Park improvements in the City of Warren, rehab of the Struthers Library Theater and funding to the Ruth M. Smith Center in Sheffield to assist with parking improvements.


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