PENN TOWNSHIP (KDKA) – Nearly 100 people attended a public hearing about a zoning ordinance that could expand gas drilling in Penn Township.

The public hearing was held at the high school and 30 people signed up to speak.

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The meeting focused on rezoning over half of Penn Township for what people in the community say is to allow unconventional gas well drilling.

Drilling opponents want the township to get rid of the mineral extraction overlay, which allows drilling on the majority of the township’s industrial and farm lands.

Drilling industry officials pointed to the positives, including low natural gas prices and less dependence on foreign oil.

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Residents who live near existing drilling operations said it is an eyesore near their otherwise quiet property. They are also worried about potential health concerns.

“I am opposed to it because I think it is an industrial process and it needs to exist in industrial zones,” Siovhan Sullivan said. “I do have concerns for it. There are a lot of health studies recently published, in the past couple of years, showing there are some risks associated with it.”

Those in favor said the royalty payments will allow family farms to continue to operate in Penn Township.

Commissioners voted unanimously to consider the zoning code ordinance at the Sept. 19 meeting.

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