On Monday afternoon, the local building inspectors arrived at the Lancaster Stand and plastered “Condemned” notices all over the tobacco barn that has become the centerpiece of the encampment against the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline. The abrupt notice was conducted by West Lampeter Township Zoning Board, as ordered by the Conestoga Township Supervisors. The barn is privately owned by Justin and Susan Cappiello, who have granted permission for Lancaster Against Pipelines to hold the Lancaster Stand encampment on their land, including use of the tobacco barn.
Lancaster Against Pipelines leadership immediately met with the West Lampeter Township building code officials, who are contracted by the Conestoga Township supervisors to enforce zoning-related issues. LAP representatives were told that public meetings constitute an illegal use of the tobacco barn. They were told they could be fined up to $1000 per day if usage of the tobacco barn continued.
In short, Lancaster County landowners are being cited for holding meetings in their own barn as they seek to protect their farm against billionaire outsiders who run an export pipeline through their land.
Every day, families across Lancaster County use their barns for meetings, family reunions, storage, and countless other “non-agricultural” purposes. It is not the job of the building inspector to approve every action committed by every person who steps foot in a Lancaster County barn.
It is clear to us that this is not about proper or improper use of a barn. This is a First Amendment issue. The Conestoga Township supervisors, who have the final say in this issue, can choose to stand up for the First Amendment and Free Speech rights of Lancaster County residents who oppose the construction of the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline. Or, they can attempt to obstruct those rights, and thus stand with the CEOs of Williams Partners in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Regardless of what the supervisors choose to do, Lancaster County residents will continue to express their constitutional rights to free speech by publicly, proudly opposing the ASP.
We call on residents of Conestoga Township, and all those who oppose the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline, to come to the Conestoga Township supervisors meeting tonight at 7pm (3959 Main Street, Conestoga PA 17516). Join us in asking them to immediately and public withdraw these baseless citations and stand with their residents’ right to free speech. We ask the Conestoga Township Supervisors: whose side are you on? The people’s -- or the CEO’s?