Proposed natural gas filling station divides Town of Manheim

By Joleen Ferris

(WKTV) - Opinions vary -- but match -- in passion and intensity when it comes to a compressed natural gas filling station that Xpress Natural Gas wants to put in the town of Manheim.

XNG wants to draw natural gas from the Iroquois pipeline, compress it and it deliver it to places such as colleges, hospitals and prisons.  Town resident Karin Yomboro spent part of her day hanging signs in opposition around town.

"I think this is the wrong site for the project...too much traffic and accidents and the risk of explosion for people living within two to three miles," says Yomboro.

Town Supervisor John Haughton knows the issue has bitterly divided some of his constituents. All he asks is that opinions are based on fact.

"I would hope people would come in, look at the plan, talk to officials, talk to XNG and then make a determination on the project," says Haughton, adding that both he and the town planning board have added Saturday hours to accommodate people.

A New York City couple who owns a farm in the town informed the supervisor in a letter that they're for the project, saying that failure to take risks can result in stagnation.

The town supervisor is reserving judgment ... for now.

"I have no opinion on the project right now. The zoning board has no opinion, the planning board has no opinion. We've asked  XNG to come put on presentations. We've asked a lot of tough questions," says Haughton.

There's a meeting in the Dolgeville firehouse at 1 p.m. Wednesday. There, residents will get answers to roughly 30 questions they've posed to the company.  Company officials will not be there, but the planning board will be present.

Company officials issued a statement late Tuesday afternoon, saying they felt compelled to address what they say are misconceptions on the part of town residents.

They say  theirs is not the first filing in New York State.  They say fears that benzene from the plant will put the sick and elderly at risk are unfounded, as there are no benzene emissions related to any process at the facility. 

XNG also said fear that vibrations from their compressors will cause impotence also are unfounded, because they are certain their process cannot produce vibrations that show any impact to human health. XNG officials say also unfounded are concerns that there will be toxic chemical spills, because natural gas is not a liquid and cannot spill. They further add that there are no significant quantities of any known toxic chemicals stored, used or associated in anyway with the operations of their stations.

Supervisor Haughton says the Zoning Board of Appeals has the final say and that they should make a determination on XNG's special use permit sometime in June.


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