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Quarry project meeting relocated

February 18, 2006|By DON AINES

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

ST. THOMAS, PA. -

A meeting about a proposed quarry project originally scheduled to take place in Harrisburg, Pa., will now be held at 3 p.m. on Tuesday in the township municipal building.

The St. Thomas Township Board of Supervisors and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection will discuss the project.

DEP spokesman Tom Rathbun said Friday that department officials will attend a public meeting of the board and will give "a brief presentation to talk about the draft conditions in the permit and how the department would maintain and enforce those provisions."

There will also be a question and answer period, Rathbun said.

Rathbun said the draft conditions of a surface mining permit have already been presented to the developer, St. Thomas Development Inc.

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The meeting between the supervisor, DEP and members of Friends and Residents of St. Thomas, or FROST, was originally set to be earlier that afternoon in Harrisburg, he said, but the township advertised it as a public meeting and the decision was made to hold the briefing in St. Thomas.

"The supervisors and FROST requested a meeting with us when we neared the end of the process," Rathbun said. He would not speculate, however, on whether the meeting signals that the issuing of a permit is imminent.

"I will bring some friends," said FROST President Francis Calverase. "I have already sent out the word to the members of FROST about the change of venue."

St. Thomas Development would have to accept any conditions imposed by DEP, post sufficient bond for the eventual reclamation of the site and be in compliance with state law, he said.

Whether the mining permit is granted or denied, the developer and opponents still have options, Rathbun said. "There is an appeal process through the environmental Hearing Board," he said.

In 2003, St. Thomas Development Inc. proposed creating a quarry and asphalt and concrete plants on the site of an orchard west of the village of St. Thomas, off Campbells Run Road.

Residents opposing the quarry formed FROST, which later filed a civil suit against the quarry developers. A U.S. District Court judge ruled against FROST, but the case has been appealed to the Third Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals and will be the subject of a March 21 hearing in Philadelphia, Calverase said.

Another suit was decided last week when Franklin County Judge Douglas W. Herman ruled that Supervisor Frank Stearn could vote on quarry issues despite opposing the quarry in his successful 2003 write-in campaign.

The board of supervisors and Stearn asked the court for a declaratory judgment after a law firm representing the developers sent a letter to the township indicating Stearn was biased against the quarry and should recuse himself from any related discussions or votes.

The board of supervisors had approved a preliminary land development plan before Stearn was sworn in.

St. Thomas Development Inc. subsequently applied for the mining permit, which has been under review by DEP.

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