County Studies Look at Marcellus Shale Impacts

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Lycoming County is one step closer to deciding how to spend money it collects from the Marcellus Shale impact fee.

By year's end, the entire county stands to receive about $10 million from the gas industry.

There were around 300 natural gas wells drilled in Lycoming County last year, according to a report from the county's planning department.

With each well, and there will be more each year, county officials said there is a far-reaching impact.

Now there is a clearer picture of what needs exist around Lycoming County after two studies were presented to county commissioners; one on housing and another on water and sewer.

"The challenge really is how do we apply the Act 13 money to meet the needs?" questioned Christine Weigle.

Weigle heads the Lycoming County Water and Sewer Authority which is branching out in the eastern part of the county.

The move is to address needs that existed before the gas industry's arrival and ones that have come up since industry-related businesses have set up shop there, she said.

"We need to respond to those needs by asking for the money, we know it's going to be competitive. We're trying to bring cost-effective services," said Weigle.

As the Marcellus Shale industry grows in Lycoming County, so do the needs associated with it. That includes better water pressure to businesses and homes, but there are other needs, like roads, bridges, even housing.

At the YWCA of Williamsport, Mallory Weymer said the gas boom has created a shortage of affordable housing and that shortage is directly affecting shelter programs.

The hope is to use a portion of impact fee money to help.

"We do have 30 rooms we can house people in. But we're hoping to possibly expand to our basement where we used to have storage and to turn that into additional housing," said Weymer.

Two more studies will be complete later this year, one on transportation and another on social justice and education. Then commissioners expect they will have the information they need to decide how to spend that impact fee money.

Housing Study - Final Report