A subsidiary of Rice Energy has sued West Pike Run Township in Washington County Court, seeking approval to expand a compressor station on a farm in the municipality.Rice Poseidon Midstream of Southpointe filed the lawsuit Tuesday asking the court to direct the township to issue a zoning permit for the expansion of its Blue Moon station on Babich Farm, claiming the township is compelled under state law to have acted by now on the company's request, court documents show."Rice is entitled to immediate approval of the land development application as filed, as a matter of law," the company stated in the lawsuit.Rice Poseidon gathers the gas produced at Marcellus Shale drilling pads and moves it through pipelines, 20 miles of which are in West Pike.The township supervisors approved a land subdivision for the site after the West Pike Run engineer in March 2015 determined the township ordinance considers a gas compressor station a "use by right" in an agricultural area, the record indicates. Construction began in May, two months after West Pike Run granted Rice a building permit for the Blue Moon station.Some time later, Rice informed the township it planned to expand the compressor station.The township informed Rice in July that it needed site and land-development plans for the expansion, which were reviewed Sept. 12 by its planning commission. Without giving a explanation, the commission voted Oct. 10 to not recommend the land-development application, the lawsuit alleges.Residents attended supervisors meetings last year to complain about noise from Blue Moon and another station in West Pike.Rice contends that the supervisors had a legal duty under Pennsylvania's municipal planning code to render a decision on its application within 90 days after the planning commission decision, a deadline that expired Dec. 11.The lawsuit also is asking the court to direct West Pike Run supervisors to approve its land-development application without conditions."The township's lack of action, by way of not voting on the land development application submitted in September, requires Rice to seek approval from the county court," Rice Energy spokeswoman Kimberly Price said. "Rice's actions are intended to ensure continuity within our midstream operations in the township."West Pike Run Supervisor Rick Molish declined to comment Friday on the lawsuit.
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