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Helicopters Surveying for Pipeline in L. Saucon? PennEast Says ‘No’

Est. Read Time: 3 mins

Despite a township landowner’s claim that helicopters that recently flew over his Lower Saucon Road property to survey it for the proposed PennEast pipeline project, a company representative said Friday that no such surveying is taking place in Lower Saucon Township or anywhere else.helicopter-628243_1280

Mike Kiefer, who owns a nursery business in the 4300 block of Lower Saucon Road, told township council Wednesday that his employees have reported to him low-flying helicopters above the property on two separate occasions recently.

In one instance, the wind disturbance created by the chopper’s blades kicked up debris that went into one of the employees’ eyes, Kiefer said, adding that he has refused PennEast’s ground surveyors access to his land.

Councilwoman Priscilla deLeon told Kiefer she has heard anecdotal reports of helicopters being used to survey for the 114-mile pipeline that is proposed for construction between northern Luzerne County and a terminus near Trenton, in Mercer County, N.J.

However, PennEast officials say no helicopters are being used for surveying.

“PennEast is not using helicopters for surveying purposes,” company spokeswoman Patricia Kornick said in an email. “Occasionally, PennEast will arrange to fly the entire proposed route to analyze overall constructability, though that is rare and unrelated to surveying.”

“Surveys…are an important part of the process, though they are not the only manner in which PennEast will determine the route that will allow for safe constructability and operations while minimizing impact,” she added. “Where surveys are most significant is that they provide directly involved landowners another opportunity to share their property-specific concerns and show PennEast any sensitivities related to their property.”

The proposed route has been tweaked many times so far based on landowner input, engineering and environmental studies, and other surveys, and Kornick said “PennEast will continue to work with directly involved landowners and agencies to determine the best route and will strive to maintain a collaborative relationship that will be beneficial to the landowners, community and the project.”

The company is planning to file its formal application for the construction of the pipeline with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in mid-September, and after that there will be “limited opportunity” to further adjust the route, Kornick noted.

At the township council meeting, Kiefer said he is unhappy with the latest shift in the proposed route to the north, closer to the intersection between Lower Saucon and Redington roads.

That slight shift means the pipeline would cross the piece of his property that fronts onto Lower Saucon Road, potentially making that one-acre piece of land unable to be subdivided and developed in the future, he said.

It could also limit his access to the rest of his property, beyond the road frontage.

Kiefer added that an adjoining several-acre parcel he recently purchased could also be devalued by the route change, which was shown on an overhead projection.

DeLeon questioned the value in the PennEast-sponsored meetings that have been held with area residents to discuss the route, since it continues to fluctuate.

The PennEast pipeline is proposed to pass through the northeastern corner of Lower Saucon Township, just south of the Lehigh River.

In addition to some residents, township officials are also opposing the project, which has generated controversy among environmentalists and others who believe it represents a threat to the quality of life in the communities it would bisect.

Updates on the pipeline project are regularly posted on the township website, and more information can be found on

PennEast Route 8.21.15

An aerial view of the latest revision (Aug. 2015) to the proposed PennEast pipeline route through Lower Saucon Township. At the center of the image is Lower Saucon Road. At left is I-78. (Credit: PennEast Pipeline Corporation/Lower Saucon Township)


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About the author

Josh Popichak

Josh Popichak is the owner, publisher and editor of Saucon Source. A Lehigh Valley native, he's covered local news since 2005 and previously worked for Berks-Mont News and AOL/Patch. Contact him at

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