Come on Out: Planning Commission Meeting at 7 p.m. on May 16
(From David Stone)
On Thursday, May 16, Penn State will present its plans for converting the West Steam Plant building to gas at the State College Borough Planning Commission meeting. The meeting starts at 7 PM at the Borough building, 243 South Allen Street. Planning Commission meetings are broadcast on C-Net and archived on the Web in the same way as Borough Council meetings.
An abbreviated agenda is online and includes:
- Public Hour – Hearing of Citizens
- Preliminary Plan Land Development Plan for the PSU Steam Plant Renovation Work for the conversion of the plant to natural gas, Corner of South Burrowes and West College Avenue, Zoning UPD, Sub-District 5, Buchart Horn, Inc., Engineer.
- Planning Commission Sub-Committee report on review of Planning Commission responsibilities within Current Borough Zoning Ordinance and the Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Code
Any questions about any aspect of the project should be fair game. This includes the Community Bill of Rights and the pipeline. But you don’t have to say anything. Please just come out that night to show your support.
Using well established zoning derived powers, the Planning Commission can take steps to cause Penn State to reshuffle its plans for the gas conversion at the West Steam Plant building itself.
For example, there are grounds for the Commission to deny certain building changes, and require additional mitigation and cleanup. This “back to the drawing board” would the give us time to work to make the historic West Steam Plant building the visually striking centerpiece of the Downtown Master Plan and revitalization effort already underway. Such Planning Commission leadership removes the hazardous liability to the downtown center that the proposed West Gas plant would otherwise become.
The Planning Commission is also a logical place to begin applying the Bill of Rights.
This reset of Penn State’s preliminary plans encourages the business community to join our cause. Once the old downtown steam plant – such a great space! what possibilities!- is freed up from the gas conversion and its real economic value realized; then the baghouse site located behind it becomes a prime university building site too; not just the venue for a locked-down multimillion dollar new service building for the gas plant.
All this added value, when translated by the accountants into real dollars, will change the cost-benefit spreadsheet to more clearly favor a limited East Steam Plant expansion at the fringe of campus nearest the existing gas line. An East Steam Plant limited expansion option must include building energy efficiency, steam tunnel upgrades or replacement, a geothermal initiative, and other energy alternatives – what a great chance too! so many great possibilities here as well. All these green energy and efficiency strategies will keep natural gas capacity and consumption as a bridge fuel at the East Plant to an absolute minimum. Millions more would be saved by not building the long distance high pressure line through the neighborhoods or campus.
The Planning Commission can also use its broad investigatory powers to shine a light on the backroom deliberations forcing the gas plant and pipeline into the densely packed campus and downtown. Why is all this happening now when 45 acres for all kinds of energy development was set aside years ago around the existing East Steam Plant in College Township?
A show of support can make all the difference – just as it did when Columbia Gas was about to start digging into the Highlands.
Please feel free to email this notice (or your take on it) around to your lists.