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Are Atlantic Sunrise Opponents Just Bullies?

dimock verdict - Tom Shepstone ReportsTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.


The reaction of Atlantic Sunrise opponents to a simple move by Conestoga Township to enforce its ordinances illustrates they’re really just bullies at heart.

There was an interesting little dust-up in Consetoga Township, Lancaster County, last month over the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline project. What makes it interesting is how well it demonstrates fractivists are just bullies at heart. Here’s the March 8 headline from Lancaster Online:

“150 upset residents attend meeting after Conestoga Township condemns barn used by Atlantic Sunrise pipeline protesters”

The idea these fractivists apparently have that laws should be just be waived for them is insulting. It demonstrates the disregard Atlantic Sunrise opponents have for the law and their intent to get their way by bullying local officials.

The Lancaster Online story includes the following information:

Conestoga Township has condemned a barn being used by protesters of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline, incensing the landowner and opponents of the controversial pipeline project.

A zoning officer cited zoning law violations for use of the barn for non-agricultural purposes.

For several weeks, several dozen people have been camping out on a farm owned by Justin and Susan Cappiello at 325 Conestoga Boulevard near Safe Harbor, part of a movement to try to disrupt the pipeline when construction begins.

A barn on the property has been used for meetings, with the Cappiellos’ permission…

In an e-mail to the township at 1 p.m. Tuesday, zoning officer Joellyn Warren said, “The zoning action was taken in relation to the land use at 325 Conestoga Boulevard as a result of zoning code violations. Owner was notified of zoning violations on February 16, 2017. No action was taken by owner within prescribed timeline to address or resolve zoning violations.

“Formal zoning notice of violations were issued on March 6, 2017. A condemnation notice was issued on March 6, 2017, to restrict access to barn for assembly use. Barn is classified as agricultural building and may continue to be used for agricultural purposes.”

It’s not hard to understand what happened from this report and two days later another report in Lancaster Online indicated “The group agreed to not use the barn for meetings. The encampment will be allowed to continue with some paperwork allowing its use as a special exception.”

So, what was the whole thing about, then? Well, that’s not hard too understand either. It was about fractivists attempting to intimidate Conestoga Township officials and stop them from doing anything that would prevent their DAPL-like protest event. They appeared to have partly succeeded (for a time) by getting the township to agree to bend its rules to allow the continuing encampment.

Atlantic Sunrise

This is because the Conestoga Township Zoning Ordinance is quite clear; what was going on was not permitted. Here is the relevant section (emphasis added):

Section 1221 – Mass Outdoor Gathering

The following Section is intended to control the periodic gatherings of people on an intermittent, accessory basis, and shall apply to cumulative gatherings of more than 300 people.

  1. Not More than Three Events Per Year. Mass outdoor gatherings shall be periodic and shall not exceed three events per year per site, which shall not exceed two days each, and shall be accessory to a primary permitted use.
  2. Control of Nuisances. The applicant shall prepare a plan for the orderly control of parking, litter, noise, lighting, traffic, emergency access, sanitation, automobile and pedestrian movement.
  3. Hours of Operation. The Zoning Hearing Board may impose reasonable limitations on hours of operation.
  4. Removal of Structures. All structures shall be completely removed within seven days of the conclusion of each event.
  5. Access. Access shall be from a major or minor collector road.

Perhaps this why Lancaster Against Pipelines announced later in March that it would also close its permanent encampment and was “moving to a weekend-only schedule” for the future:

Our weekend gatherings will focus on action planning, trainings, and workshops in preparation for when construction does occur.

Orientation, mass action trainings, and legal trainings will continue to be held at camp on the weekend. Community dinners and special events will also be held – so please keep an eye out for future announcements!

While this a significant backing off by the protesters and, seemingly, a victory for the rule of law, it was, nonetheless, a bullying attempt; what fractivists suppose they have the right to do anytime they don’t get their way. Moreover, they’ve not completely complied with the law yet either. Mass gatherings on weekends are not allowed more than three times per year or for more than a cumulative 300 persons. It certainly appears those thresholds were crossed a while back, if StateImpactPA can be believed. And, “Camp Rules” are still posted on their website.

Conestoga Township officials are nonetheless, to be commended for doing their job and resisting this bullying. Their quiet professionalism in response seems to have borne fruit in putting manners on Lancaster Against Pipelines.


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4 thoughts on “Are Atlantic Sunrise Opponents Just Bullies?

  1. Everything is about the rights of antifracking and pipeline activists ability to exercise their fact-free speech rights don’t you know? Of course what is missed by too many reporters who are quite naturally drawn to cover the protests is that it is not really the protesting that is the societal issue as hey it is America and your right to protest is protected. Rather it is the fact that antifracking activists and environmental groups are misinforming the public about important issues of the day that is important.

    What is wrong with the press?!? I have written to too many reporters about this only to be ignored.

  2. http://www.nj.com/opinion/index.ssf/2017/04/why_threaten_nj_waterways_with_arsenic_if_penneast_isnt_needed_opinion.html

    Oh look. It is an opinion on the Penn east pipeline published where? Written by some average citizen or no some connected environmental guy? How many politicians or people who represent a county have already been involved in some capacity with resisting the Penn east pipeline? I bet it is plenty. Just like in NY and Maryland and elsewhere there are plenty of politicians working hand in glove with or seeming to represent the antifracking pipeline resistance movement as if this movement was it’s most important consituency?

    From the politician now dubbed the most popular politician in the country, Bernie Sanders to the ny governor Cuomo whose recent state of the state not only mentioned nys fracking ban but also stated that ny will fight fracked gas in other states as well, to the NYC mayor bill deblasio who came out against fracking a few years ago to Larry Hogan and on it goes. I’m sure the list of politicians inovlved with a pipeline fight (Tulsi gabbard) whether in solidarity like with dakota pipe is likewise pretty long. How come I haven’t seen this list covered in the press?

  3. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/40099-firm-hired-by-ferc-to-review-dominion-s-atlantic-coast-pipeline-linked-to-project-s-main-environmental-contractor

    And here is the sociology professor turned faux journalist hack writing about ferc and Penn east pipeline for both desmog blog and truthout. Seriously? First of all desmog blog says it does journalism but it doesn’t. And Mr Verdi’s other work on ferc, the pipeline permitting process and contractors is equally as atrocious as this latest bit of nonsense. No one sees this happening? Really? I know I have written to reporters and editors for a long time about stuff like this. It isn’t a matter of them not seeing it then. It is a matter of them turning a blind eye, not deeming this as important or newsworthy or them just not recognizing they are being handed important information simply because it is an ordinary citizen handing it to them or their own knowledge of this subject is so limited and small they don’t understand what they are seeing or being handed. Unreal. How much garbage and misinformation can people find about fracking, natural gas , pipelines and ferc and how much of that garbage and misinformation is actually conveyed by someone who calls themselves a reporter or in a publication that says it does new???

    You tell reporters oh your sources will lie to you and here is what they do…NOTHING. That is inexcusable.

  4. What these people really need is a nice friendly Native tribe that they can bully and extort. It’s likely that they won’t have any zoning and they would be able to walk right over them and do whatever they want.

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