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Many Locals Celebrate After Nestle Abandons Plans

ELDRED TOWNSHIP — After a year-long battle, Nestle has decided to not move in to the Kunkletown area. The company wanted to take 200,000 gallons of water ...
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ELDRED TOWNSHIP -- After a year-long battle, Nestle has decided to not move in to the Kunkletown area.

The company wanted to take 200,000 gallons of water a day from a property and bottle it for its Deer Park Spring Water.

Donna Deihl and other residents have spent months making sure that doesn't happen by filling the community with signs.

"We were so worried about our water. We were worried about our wells. We were worried about our truck traffic. We were worried about the restrictions that would've been put on the entire township to protect their well head," Deihl said.

In a statement, Nestle listed several reasons for pulling its application including resource sustainability, logistics and local cooperation:

As you know, Nestlé Waters’ Special Exception Zoning Permit Application for the development of the Chestnut Springs project is in front of the Eldred Township Zoning Hearing Board.

Over the last year, I have come to know many of you in this room personally. I’m thankful for the dialogue we’ve had and the helpful information you’ve shared. Nestlé Waters has dedicated more than 300 hours to engaging with the community and answering your questions.

The robust application package we submitted contains several third-party scientific reports that demonstrate the proposed water withdrawals can be done in an environmentally sustainable manner.

We’re committed to being good stewards of the environment, as we’ve demonstrated in other spring water facilities in eastern Pennsylvania.

But we recognize that sound science and resource sustainability are only part of the equation when we select a location for a potential spring water facility. A multitude of factors go into any business decision we make.

We also consider long-term source water quality, as well as community sentiment and our partnership with the source owner.

Logistics and site development also play a role. Although the project was designed to comply with all applicable regulatory requirements, the proposal involved certain aspects that were less than ideal for Nestlé Waters’ standards --- including the need to accommodate multiple uses on a single property, which created logistical and design challenges.

We believe strongly in partnering with communities to create shared value by providing economic and community benefits, and we recognize that strong community relations are important to developing these sites in a manner that works well for all parties.

The foundation of these strong relationships is initiating the siting process in an open and transparent manner.

It is clear to us that the community in Eldred Township does not believe the process around this project worked the way it was intended and that many of you have concerns about this project. We want you to know that we hear you.

Additionally, Nestlé Waters has a project siting review team that frequently evaluates each proposed project as it goes through the various stages of development.

It is always our policy to continually assess the interests of our partners alongside our own business needs and the interests of the community. As our partner in this project and as a long-standing member of the Eldred Township community, we value the input and insight of landowner Rick Gower.

We have not been successful in gaining the same acceptance here in Eldred Township as we have in other communities that host our operations, and our partner in this effort has also expressed his reservations about moving forward.

So, for all of these reasons and others, and in mutual agreement with the landowner, Nestlé Waters is withdrawing its pending zoning permit application.

As we withdraw our permit, we intend to share the data we collected about the aquifer to assist the town as it fosters a better understanding of local water resources, and host final office hours for anyone who may have outstanding questions.

We thank you again for making your voices heard and for sharing your concerns with us.

Barbara Meadows was shocked when the surprise announcement was made at Wednesday's township supervisors' meeting.

"I didn't think it would stop here. I thought we had months of horrors to look forward to," Meadows added.

While Nestle's plans are over for now, there is still a lawsuit between several residents and the township supervisors over how zoning ordinances were changed.

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