Pa. planners back quarry

October 09, 2003|by DON AINES

A proposed quarry in St. Thomas Township passed a major hurdle Wednesday night when the township planning commission unanimously recommended conditional approval of a preliminary site development plan.

When the commission first reviewed the plan two months ago, it raised more than 30 issues for the St. Thomas Development Corp. to address. By Wednesday, the list had been whittled down to 11, but it was the extension of sewer lines, screening and the quarry reclamation plan that took up most of the two-hour discussion.

Township engineer Timothy C. Cormany told the commission it had to vote on a recommendation for approval or disapproval that night. If it voted to disapprove the plan, it had to cite its specific reasons from the township subdivision and land development ordinance.


The state municipal code says the plan has to come before the supervisors for approval within 90 days of its submission to the planning commission or it will be approved by default, said Bryan Salzmann, an attorney for the corporation. The supervisors have a meeting scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 15.

Public opposition to the quarry and its concrete and asphalt operations led to the creation of Friends and Residents of St. Thomas, of F.R.O.S.T., which is trying to halt the project.

The commission recommended that the corporation be granted a waiver of a requirement that it connect to the municipal sewer system. The extension along U.S. 30 would be more than 3,000 feet and cost the company about $85,000, according to Cormany.

Extending the sewer would mean six properties along the route would be required to connect to the sewer, according to Cormany. Because those properties would need sewer laterals bored under U.S. 30, Cormany said the cost would top $13,000 each.

"That's a lot of money for people to come up with," commission member Ken Myers said.

"I'm in favor of it for the property owners," Vice Chairman Steve Mixell said of the waiver.

One condition placed on the recommendation was that the corporation develop a satisfactory plan to screen the quarry from the view of neighbors.

The plan shows a combination of earthen berms, existing trees and new trees around the site, which had been an orchard. Lance Kegerreis, an engineer for the corporation, said the berms would be a minimum of 10 feet with trees planted on them.

Reclamation of the quarry, which could be in operation for a century, is another condition of the recommendation. The ordinance states the reclamation plan must meet state requirements, but also calls for the land to be restored to the same or better condition once the mine is closed.

"It seems to me you would put it back exactly as it was," said Frank Stearn, a member of F.R.O.S.T. and a write-in candidate for township supervisor in the Nov. 4 election.

Stearn said restoring it to its original condition would be "certainly more attractive and less dangerous than a hole in the ground."

The corporation, which is owned by Tony DePaul and Son, a Blue Belle, Pa., contracting firm, intends it to be a water impoundment, according to Kegerreis. Cormany said filling a 300-foot deep hole with clean fill would be nearly impossible.

Salzmann said Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection regulations pre-empt local ordinances and the company would adhere to state regulations. The commission decided the township's attorney would have to decide on that issue.

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