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Officials: Coseytown Rd. project in compliance

July 29, 2009|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

GREENCASTLE, Pa. -- The property improvement project along Coseytown Road, which neighbors blame for destroying the road with heavy truck traffic, is in regulatory compliance, according to officials and the property owner.

"Let them say what they will, I am in compliance," owner Dorothy Emmons said. "And I can prove it."

About 20 residents went before the Antrim Township Board of Supervisors Tuesday to express concerns about the project and the trucks that access it daily.

Charles E. Brake Co. Inc. of St. Thomas, Pa., has been transporting loads of fill since May to the home of Emmons at 4801 Coseytown Road. The fill is being used to make a backyard for Emmons, she said.

Since purchasing the 2.9-acre property in 2003, Emmons only has been able to use a fraction of her land. Running through the center of her property is a ravine she estimated to be at least 50 feet deep and 100 feet wide.

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"I just want a backyard where I can have a picnic with friends and family," she said. "I don't know why everyone has a problem with me trying to improve my property."

Charles Shahan of 3422 Coseytown Road told the board of supervisors Tuesday he believes the site to be noncompliant with standard general contractor site work policies and procedures, specifically sediment and erosion controls.

Lauri Lebo, a spokeswoman with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), said the Franklin County Conservation District has inspected the property for erosion and soil issues.

As of Wednesday morning, the DEP had no reason to believe the project was not complying with state regulations, she said.

Before attempting to level her land, Emmons took care to dot every "i" and cross every "t," she said.

In late 2007, Emmons contacted the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Baltimore and the DEP for permits to fill the ravine, level her property and provide adequate storm-water management.

The portion of the property to be filled was not large enough to warrant a DEP erosion and sedimentation permit, Lebo said, adding at the time, the DEP determined while the ravine provided storm-water management, it was not a natural wetland or stream.

Randall Brake, owner of Charles E. Brake Co. Inc., said his company only will provide fill to permitted property owners.

The Army Corps of Engineers confirmed it granted Emmons a permit for the project.

After hearing Emmons' side of the story, Shahan, who went out to the property with a Herald-Mail reporter Wednesday, said while he understands what she is trying to do, his major concern was the damage her project was causing to the road.

"I'm not trying to stop you from doing what you are doing, I just want to know who is going to fix our road, which if it were not for your project, would not be being torn up," Shahan said to Emmons.

In a letter to neighbors, Shahan described the road as abused and damaged.

Antrim Township Roadmaster Paul Minnich confirmed the road has sustained damage, which despite its age, he said, is not the result of normal wear and tear.

Minnich alleged the Brake trucks exceed 80,000 pounds gross vehicle weight (GVW), and the weight shifting as the trucks navigate Coseytown Road is causing the damage.

When asked if his trucks weigh more 80,000 pounds, Brake said the accusation was absurd.

"Maryland's weight restriction is lower than Pennsylvania's, and we are trucking most of this in from Maryland," he said.

Brake said Maryland restricts loads to 56,000 pounds GVW, but allows certain companies to haul up to 70,000 pounds GVW. Pennsylvania, he said, allows 73,280 pounds GVW.

"We can't exceed the Maryland restriction, so there is no way we are exceeding Pennsylvania's," he said.

While both Brake and Emmons rebutted most of what was said Tuesday by residents, they said one of the accusations made Tuesday was accurate.

Both confirmed some of the fill is coming from the Jonathan Street improvement project in Hagerstown. However, as much, or more, of the fill came from the Maugansville Elementary School project, Brake said.

After a day of digging into the complaints and claims made by residents, Antrim Township Administrator Brad Graham said he can find nothing out of order.

Graham said he has not personally spoken with Brake or Emmons.

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