Tempers flare during Penn Township injection-well meeting

Carlisle/West Shore

Thousands of dollars in damage, dried up wells, and fears of contamination: those are just a few of the complaints Penn Township residents voiced Tuesday night.

The target of their anger is a developer that is building a warehouse on over 2-million square feet of land in the Cumberland County township.

It is using injection wells. The main complaint of township residents is they want to get rid of stormwater runoff.

“I hope these people just grill you endlessly throughout the night. I hope you don’t leave here until one in the morning,” said Randy Heishman, who says he’s experienced thousands of dollars in damage by the injection wells.

He said officials with Ridge Development promised him they would come out and test his water and fix the damage done by their construction, but no one ever showed.

“Every time I come to this meeting, I’m taking time away from my family; time that I can’t get back, time of false promises, empty pockets, and lies,” Heishman said.

Ridge Development tried to ease fears, saying it only uses roof runoff, not parking lot runoff, in its injection well system, and only after the water has been treated by UV light. 

Steve Kros, the executive vice president of Ridge Development, explained how the injection well system works.

“That underground basin will serve to both hold it back to detain it, to slow it down, and also, it will allow for whatever sediment that there would be to settle out,” Kros said. 

But many residents want to skip injection wells altogether. 

“Is the square footage you’re gonna gain by using these injection wells really worth it? Isn’t it better for the community if you just put a retention pond in and everyone was happy with it?” asked Lane Whigam, a township resident.

The developers said retention ponds would take up 30 percent of the land, which wouldn’t be economically feasible. They also said they tried to make a compromise with property owners who might be affected by the wells. 

“One thing we did is moved the wells, really, as far away from the property boundaries as we can,” Kros said. 

For Heishman, it’s too little, too late. 

“These people here are going back to their homes. They’re going back to the water that you polluted. I’m going back to my house to drink my bottled water that I have to buy now,” Heishman said. 

Heishman said he was told by one of Ridge Development’s hired contractors that his llamas were causing his well-water to be contaminated. He said he knows this isn’t true because he didn’t have problems until construction started and he actually has alpacas.

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