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Pa. developer's quarry appeal is withdrawn

May 06, 2006|By DON AINES

ST. THOMAS, PA.

Litigation challenging St. Thomas Township Supervisor Frank Stearn's ability to vote on quarry-related issues in that municipality has been withdrawn by the quarry developers.

"I'm personally glad it's over and we can move ahead," township solicitor John Lisko said Thursday. He said he had received a letter earlier this week from an attorney for St. Thomas Development Inc. informing him that the appeal by the developer to Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court had been withdrawn.

"It's good news in that there's no further litigation that's going to take place on this," Stearn said.

"The appeal was filed as a precautionary measure only," attorney Bryan Salzmann wrote in the letter to Lisko, which stated his client had instructed him to withdraw the appeal.

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"Since the quarry project is now fully permitted and construction has begun, it is my hope that the township and my client can forge a strong working relationship for the future," Salzmann wrote.

Stearn opposed the quarry in his successful write-in campaign for the board of supervisors in 2003. In 2004, the township received a letter from St. Thomas Development stating that Stearn "exhibited a bias in this matter" and should recuse himself from voting on resolutions related to the quarry.

The township and Stearn subsequently brought a civil suit against the corporation, asking the court for a declaratory judgment as to whether Stearn could vote on quarry issues.

In February, Franklin County Court of Common Pleas Judge Douglas Herman ruled that Stearn's personal opposition to the quarry project did not rise to the level of a bias, and that he would be allowed to vote on issues related to the quarry.

In March, Stearn did cast a vote in favor of approving the final land development plan for the quarry. Stearn said he did so because the plan was in compliance with township ordinances.

Despite that, the appeal of Herman's decision to Commonwealth Court was filed in April.

Salzmann did not return a telephone message to his office Thursday.

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