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Quarry opponent seeks township supervisor post

October 03, 2003|by DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

ST. THOMAS, Pa. - One of the opponents of a proposed quarry in St. Thomas Township has thrown his hat into the ring as a write-in candidate for township supervisor in the Nov. 4 general election.

Saying he did not believe the board of supervisors is powerless to stop the project, Frank Stearn announced Thursday he is running in an attempt to oust incumbent Supervisor David C. Ramer next month.

"I need volunteers and I need donations and I believe we really can change the outcome of the quarry," Stearn told a group of about 80 people at the St. Thomas Assembly of God.

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A partner in Sunrise Electronics and Computers in Chambersburg, Pa., Stearn said "there is no reason our children should have to listen to blasting" or deal with the dust and heavy truck traffic that the quarry and proposed asphalt and gravel operations would produce.

"The implications of the quarry are greater than any of us, even FROST, envision," Stearn said.

FROST is an acronym for Friends and Residents of St. Thomas, a group recently organized to try and stop the quarry proposed by the St. Thomas Development Corp., an affiliate of Tony DePaul and Son, a Blue Bell, Pa., contracting firm.

Ramer, who won both the Republican and Democratic primaries in the May primary election, said Thursday he "heard rumors" that a FROST member would mount a write-in campaign, but said the supervisors have little say over mining operations, no matter who is on the board.

"It's strictly up to DEP to either approve it or disapprove it," Ramer said of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. "DEP does all the regulating of all mining."

Ramer said the supervisors repealed the township's zoning ordinance shortly after he took office six years ago, but "zoning would not keep it out because that area was zoned industrial, agricultural and commercial, which would have let the quarry go in anyway."

The quarry would be northeast of the village of St. Thomas on about 400 acres of what had been an orchard.

Ramer said the quarry project has yet to come before the board for action and the preliminary land development plan has been sent back to the developers by the township's planning commission twice. Ramer said the board has hired an environmental lawyer and geologist to review the developer's application to the state.

Also at the FROST meeting was Chambersburg engineer William Hemsley, who said the quarry project could be successfully challenged by the group.

"What are the benefits of having the quarry where it is? I can't think of any," Hemsley said. "There are a lot of risks."

Hemsley said the group needs to present the DEP with facts and challenge the developers on a number of issues, including environmental, health, air and noise pollution and the effect on groundwater.

For example, Hemsley said the developer's reclamation plan for the site is "not viable." Using figures he said the developer supplied the DEP as part of the application process, Hemsley said the quarry would operate for 100 years or more and require 215 billion cubic feet of clean fill to fill in the 300-foot deep hole.

"It would take 2,786 years to fill up that hole," he said, basing that on estimates of the amount of construction debris generated in the county each year.

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