By Joe Holden

MARPLE TOWNSHIP, Pa. (CBS) — A grassroots movement continues in Marple Township. Neighbors have come together to fight PECO and their plans for an empty lot.

PECO says the lot is perfect for them because they have a gas main that comes down from West Conshohocken, under Sproul Road, and would join it with its proposed natural gas reliability station.

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But neighbors say the plan is all wrong as they are concerned about its proximity to homes, businesses and a local restaurant.

Parents and grandparents met Eyewitness News at the site, a square corner lot at Sproul and Cedar Grove Roads in Marple.

“Very, very concerning for all of us,” one woman said.

Signs hint at their opposition: a not in my backyard showdown.

The manager of the burger restaurant next door sees it this way.

“Really, it’s a fear of the unknown,” he said.

PECO wants to build what it calls a natural gas reliability station. Spokesman Doug Oliver contends there’s nothing new about the piece of infrastructure they say reduces natural gas pressure and will feed additional gas into growing areas.

“We’re talking about 20% growth in Delaware County, 10% growth in Marple Township over the next 10 years, and that if we do nothing, we anticipate that there will be supply challenges,” Oliver said.

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Marple Township zoning officials rejected PECO’s plan.

The energy company in turn filed appeals in county court and with the state utility commission.

The company says it’s tried to convince neighbors there’s nothing to worry about.

“We think our safety record, having operated these same facilities for so long and all the awards for doing if safely, should be factored into it,” Oliver said.

As you might imagine, these folks — close to a dozen who showed up after we sent a single email seeking comment — aren’t buying it.

“Frankly, it’s an improper use of this property with all these homes around it,” one man said.

The township agrees with him. They are a party to the litigation in county court

Marple Township released the following statement:

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“This matter is currently in litigation and on behalf of the Marple Township Commissioners,  the township is opposed to this project at this site, and is a party to the zoning appeal in Delaware County Courts where we are supporting the Zoning Hearing Board’s decision denying zoning approval for the reliability station at this site and before the PUC where we are opposing PECO’s petition asking the PUC to declare this project a necessity and allow PECO to circumvent zoning.  The Township opposes the project because it does not believe that the proposed use is appropriate for this site for health, safety and welfare reasons including noise and safety and given its immediate proximity to neighboring residential properties and neighboring commercial and restaurant facilities which includes outdoor dining.  Additionally, the Township does not believe that PECO has shown in any forum that the project is a necessity and certainly not that it is necessary to be located at this site.”