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Vote delayed on St. Thomas quarry plan

November 06, 2003|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

ST. THOMAS, Pa. - The St. Thomas Township Board of Supervisors voted Wednesday to delay a vote on the concrete and asphalt plants and stone quarry proposed for the township.

The issue will be considered at the next meeting of the supervisors on Wednesday, Nov. 19, at 7:30 p.m.

About 70 residents crowded into the garage of the township building to protest the quarry. Several said how they thought the proposed quarry would lower the quality of life in the rural area and create health hazards. Their concerns centered on truck traffic; noise, air and water pollution; lowering of the water table; sinkholes; hazardous waste from the asphalt plant; and vibrations from blasting.

The 381 acres of former orchard land along U.S. 30 west of St. Thomas was purchased for $2 million in April by the St. Thomas Development Corp., an affiliate of Tony DePaul and Son, a contracting firm in Blue Bell, Pa. About 180 acres would be used for the quarry and two plants.

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Many of the presenters said they felt that their concerns were ignored by the supervisors. Several people urged the supervisors to do some research, and many showed up with some of their own research.

Dr. Pierre Turchi, a St. Thomas physician, wrote letters to the board of supervisors stating how many people in his practice and in the county have chronic lung diseases and would be harmed by stone dust from the quarry. While Department of Environmental Protection regulations allow a large quarry to be situated within 300 feet of a school, Turchi said the 1,200 feet that separate the proposed quarry from St. Thomas Elementary School is insufficient.

Turchi was represented at Wednesday's meeting by his wife, Sara Turchi, who read from one of his letters.

Gloria Saberin, a 30-year township resident, said the public's perception is that the supervisors are doing nothing to prevent the quarry from coming. She said she has attended every supervisors' meeting since August, and her concerns have never been addressed.

"Over and over again, our speakers, letters and documents are met with silence. You are overdue in your response." Saberin's husband, Paul Saberin, told the supervisors. "Tell us what you believe is the right thing to do."

After the comment period, the supervisors' discussion centered on the earthen berm and trees required as screening around the quarry, and the sewer waiver the development corporation had requested. Supervisor David Ramer opposed the waiver, as other development in the area had to comply with sewer regulations.

Edmund Herald, supervisors chairman, said this was the first meeting at which the board had a chance to look at the plans. Engineer Lance Kegerreis of Dennis E. Black Engineering in Chambersburg, Pa., explained several aspects of the plans.

Herald said after the meeting that the concerns of residents were not being ignored, but did not elaborate.

Herald said he favors an extension because the sewer issue is not resolved, he wants the screening looked at again, and he wants the engineers involved on issues with the roads around the quarry.

Supervisor Tim Sollenberger said he felt the supervisors had come a long way in the past six weeks since the planning commission looked at the proposal, but that the sewer needs more study.

Representatives of the St. Thomas Development Corp. then requested the extension for their preliminary land development plan, which the supervisors unanimously approved.

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