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West Goshen Township may seek recovery of legal fees for this prolonged fight, but the Public Utility Commission would have to approve recovery of legal fees.
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West Goshen Township filed a lawsuit against Sunoco Logistics in March of 2017 after it was discovered that Sunoco Logistics was not abiding by the May 2015 settlement agreement, namely that Sunoco Logistics, without the required notice to West Goshen Township, moved the automatic valve locations for the Mariner II pipelines.
The Township has yet to determine why Sunoco Logistics has breached the Settlement Agreement, but the current litigation aims to determine why the breach occurred and find a remedy.
First, the project scuttled an approximately $35,000,000 approved land development project, namely Traditions Independent Living, at the unauthorized location of the Mariner II valve stations on the eastern side of Boot Road at Route 202. The Traditions development project would have provided approximately $400,000 in road improvements to the congested intersection of Route 202 / Boot Road / Greenhill Road. In addition, the project would have provided over $100,000 in building permit fees and significant earned income and real estate taxes to the Township. The Traditions project would have provided a nearby independent living facility accessible to retired Township residents.
Second, building a 10,000 square foot valve station on the eastern side of Route 202 at Boot Road effectively stops any economic development or land development of the remaining parcel, given that the proposed valve station is situated in the middle of the parcel. This parcel will become tax-exempt, given the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and many Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court rulings that Sunoco Logistics is a tax-exempt public utility.
As of July 2018 and since early 2014, West Goshen Township has expended over $705,000 in legal fees fighting Sunoco Logistics. These legal fees are in addition to the countless Township staff hours devoted to this issue.
The project installation costs just for the 2 Mariner II pipeline projects is estimated at 3.5 billion dollars. Profits for Sunoco Logistics after project completion are unknown.
The current litigation should be complete by September 2018.
The Township enacted an ordinance in 2014 that prohibited the installation of private pipelines in residential areas, but following Sunoco Logistics’ approval as a Public Utility by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, the Township no longer had any jurisdiction over the installation of the pipelines.