From the President's Pen... 2013
In June of 2009, the Silvi Group, headquartered in Fairless Hills in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, purchased a 1,440-acre rock quarry in Belle Mead, New Jersey. On June 4, 2012, Gibraltar Rock of Belle Mead, held an open house to allow the community to view the quarry operation. Luxury shuttle buses were provided for guests to tour the 725-acre facility. The company proudly showcased their new crushing equipment, conveyors, and large earthmoving machinery. I’m sure their guests were impressed.
Since purchasing the New Jersey quarry, Gibraltar Rock has persisted in community involvement by joining the Rotary club, sponsoring youth sports teams, donating turkeys to five volunteer firehouses, supporting the local historical society, and engaging in other worthwhile community service projects. Very impressive, some would say.
However, in our area of New Hanover Township, Montgomery County, the Silvi Group has attempted to bring hard rock mining to our small, mostly residential community. This quarry would be located on approximately 240 acres. Within a one-mile radius of this acreage are 18 historic sites, 3 schools, a retirement community, a group home for the disabled, 7 parks, and at least 438 residential buildings. Currently in the township, we are averaging about 100 new homes per year and there are between 1,000-2,000 homes on the books.
At a meeting before the New Hanover Planning Commission a few months ago, Larry Silvi, co-owner of Gibraltar Rock, made a plea to the Commission to approve the quarry plan, in part because Gibraltar Rock has kept promises at 13 other locations (not quarries). He said they co-exist in other towns and in New Hanover hopefully the residents won’t even know a quarry is here.
Is that true? How can residents who commute daily, and school bus drivers who attempt to stay on schedule, not notice when they must stop on several roads while blasting occurs? At other local quarries, the crushing equipment can be heard day and night. Is the new equipment silent? Why wouldn’t the community notice 200 tri-axle trucks daily on our local roads? Most, if not all, of the businesses along Route 100 in Bechtelsville, experience on a daily basis a thin covering of white dust on their vehicles and businesses, a gift from the area quarry. The same situation occurs for the neighbors of the Marlborough Township quarry. Are the residents of New Hanover deaf . . . and blind?
In a hearing related to the proposed Gibraltar Rock quarry, in the Court of Common Pleas in Norristown, Pennsylvania, a senior judge made the statement that most quarries are proposed in remote areas. The judge noted that is not the situation in New Hanover Township. He observed the proximity of the proposed quarry to the schools, parks, and residential dwellings noted above. The judge doesn’t live in our community, yet he is aware of the effects of a hard rock quarry.