Robinson Township gives local nod to plans for Beech Hollow power plant

Gideon Bradshaw

Robinson officials granted local approval on Monday for a company’s plans for the Beech Hollow power plant, as two of the township’s three supervisors publicly declared their conflicts of interest in relation to the project.

In their 2-0 vote – from which Chairman Rodger Kendall abstained – supervisors Mary Donaldson and David Foley approved Robinson Power Co.’s land development plans related to a natural gas-fired plant the firm proposed building on 59 acres between Route 980 and Candor Road. The approval is pending an ongoing bid by the company for the state Department of Environmental Protection to grant permission to modify its plans for the plant.

Before they voted, township solicitor Alan Shukrow acknowledged Kendall and Foley had conflicts that would normally preclude both of them from voting on the project under state law.

“But that’s going to put us in a position where we only have one person that’s able to vote, and based on the Ethics Act, we have to be able to take action,” Shuckrow said.

So, similarly to a preliminary vote taken in September, Foley participated in the final decision based on Shuckrow’s input.

Kendall said he has right-of-way easements with Robinson Power to cross his land with a gas pipeline. Foley said his father and brother have similar agreements with the company.

Robinson Power and Champion Processing Inc., which would own the site of the power plant, are family companies run by businessman Raymond Bologna, who’s floated several proposals over the years for a power plant there.

The future of the project is still contingent on the DEP’s decision on the company’s state permit for the plant. DEP spokeswoman Lauren Fraley previously said even though it’s a “major modification” to the plans, “this review must undergo the same regulatory scrutiny as a new plan approval application.”

Vernon Wranosky, a project manager from the Kansas City, Mo., engineering firm Burns & McDonnell, said during a township meeting last month that the main entrance to the facility, known as the Beech Hollow plant, will be from Route 980, with a secondary one off Champion Way, formerly known as Beech Hollow Road.