Residents plan to oppose quarry project

July 29, 2003|by RICHARD BELISLE

ST. THOMAS, Pa. - Some St. Thomas residents want to organize a citizens group to fight a proposal by a Philadelphia-area company to turn a 381-acre orchard into a limestone quarry with asphalt and concrete plants, one resident said Monday.

Gregg Brady said an organizational meeting of the group is scheduled for Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. at the offices of Dr. Pierre Turchi at 175 St. Thomas-Edenville Road.

According to preliminary plans on file at the St. Thomas Township Supervisors Office on Hade Road, the St. Thomas Development Corp. of Blue Bell, Pa., is the developer. The company bought the land from Mountain Brook Orchards through a real estate agent earlier this year, said Edmund G. Herald, chairman of the St. Thomas Township Supervisors.


The corporation lists its address as 1750 Walton Road, Blue Bell, Pa. Tony DePaul, vice president of Tony DePaul and Son, a Blue Bell contracting firm connected to the St. Thomas Development Corp., could not be reached for comment Monday.

The proposed site angles off U.S. 30 west of St. Thomas at Campbell's Run Road.

Entrance to the quarry will be off Campbell's Run Road with an alternate entrance off U.S. 30.

According to the plans, the operation will consist of surface mining, rock crushing and screening, a concrete plant and an asphalt plant. It also shows a proposed outparcel bordering a stretch of U.S. 30.

The plan notes that National Wetlands Inventory Mapping show wetlands on the proposed site. Portions also lie in a flood plain. The plan also shows three storm water detention basins.

Township ordinances require fencing and a 100-foot buffer zone around the perimeter.

Herald said the permit process will take a year or more.

The township supervisors plan to hire a consultant, either an attorney or a qualified engineer, to help the municipality track the development through the permit process with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. DEP is the lead agency in the permit process.

St. Thomas Township does not have zoning. Asked if that means the township has little say in the matter, Herald said, "Unfortunately, that's probably true. That's why we voted to retain a consultant, to ensure that nothing is overlooked. We're not experts and we're very concerned about protecting the township's best interests."

The township is concerned about environmental, health, traffic and noise issues, Herald said.

St. Thomas, an agricultural and bedroom community, has no major industry other than the headquarters of the Charles E. Brake Co., a construction company, Herald said.

"The majority of the population works outside the township," he said.

The St. Thomas Township Planning Commission will review the preliminary plans at its Aug. 13 meeting, Herald said. The plans also have been filed with the Franklin County Planning Commission.

Dennis E. Black Engineering Inc. in Chambersburg, Pa., drew up the preliminary land development plan for the quarry.

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