August 2016 Newsletter
2015 was a very busy year for Gibraltar Rock, New Hanover Twp, and the Paradise Watchdogs.
1) Gibraltar Rock’s quest for an approved land development plan . . . .
Gibraltar Rock requested meetings with the Township in an attempt to get preliminary approval of their land development plan, first submitted to the Planning Commission in October 2010. Talks continued until early June 2015, when Gibraltar Rock asked the Board of Supervisors for "preliminary approval" of the Plan.
June 8, 2015:
The Board of Supervisors capitulated in spite of the many objections voiced by residents and our attorney at a meeting held at Boyertown Jr. High East on June 8, 2015. At the meeting, the Board refused to consider the "new threat" to our area since Gibraltar Rock’s planning discussions in 2010-2012 ß ß the HOFF VC HSCA toxic site (Good Oil Company). Several residents requested that the known areas with contamination on Gibraltar’s land be noted on Gibraltar’s land development plan, on the acreage that was being considered for preliminary approval. The Board chairman said "No" – the Board of Supervisors refused to grant our request.
During the meeting, Solicitor Paul A. Bauer announced that the Board would sign a "resolution" stating the township’s requirements before "final approval" would be considered. Then the Board voted, giving Gibraltar Rock preliminary plan approval on 163 acres south of Hoffmansville Road. Sometime after the June 8th meeting, the quarry’s attorney gave a statement to the Pottstown Mercury saying Gibraltar Rock expected to have final plan approval by the end of 2015.
July-November 2015: At Board meetings, residents began asking questions such as: How could the Good Oil Company sell part of their property to Gibraltar Rock when the land is part of the contamination site? The Board of Supervisors (BOS) asked the solicitor to write a letter to the DEP asking that question. The letter was sent to the PA-DEP in August 2015, and the DEP has not yet responded to the Township.
In the meantime, the Township and Ban the Quarry brought the situation to the attention of State Rep. Marcy Toepel and she engaged the help of State Sen. Bob Mensch to request that the DEP come to New Hanover for a public meeting to hear the concerns of area residents. The DEP has given numerous excuses, but our representatives, the Township, and Ban-the-Quarry are determined.
December 9, 2015:
Gibraltar Rock requested a meeting with the township Planning Commission, asking them to make a "recommendation for final plan approval" to the BOS. There was a long discussion involving our attorney, our engineer, and the residents. Our attorney pointed out that the requirements of the June 8th "resolution" had not been fulfilled, our engineer explained that the land development plan was incomplete and ambiguous, and there were still too many outstanding issues with the plan. We complained that the Plan was being rushed through to final approval, but our objections did not even cause the Planning Commission to hesitate. All of our objections were ignored, their minds made up before the start of the meeting.
The Planning Commission made a motion that evening to recommend final plan approval with "conditions". We are still trying to obtain a copy of the transcripts of this meeting to be sure what the conditions are. The quarry’s attorney changed his mind several times on certain issues with the plan, and it’s impossible to know at this point what decisions were made, changed, required, or thrown out the window. Final approval will be decided by the BOS at a later date.
2) Gibraltar Rock’s water discharge permit . . .
Currently we have informed the residents that Gibraltar Rock has submitted a renewal application to the Penna. DEP for an NPDES Permit (National Pollution Discharge and Elimination System). Residents have been writing letters with their comments, objections, and request for the DEP District Mining Office in Pottsville, PA, to come here for a public meeting before issuing this permit.
We are opposed to the issuing of this permit prior to the DEP’s clean-up of the contamination site next to the proposed quarry. The former Latshaw farm, and the former Renninger Farm, now owned by Gibraltar Rock, are included in the HOFF VC HSCA contamination site. We don’t want any blasting done before the clean-up is completed.
3) Gibraltar Rock’s new application to the Zoning Hearing Board . . .
In early spring 2015, Gibraltar Rock filed a new application asking for a special exception to quarry on 82 acres of heavy industrial land north of Hoffmansville Rd. They had purchased 18+ acres from Ethan Good (Good Oil) and a smaller parcel with access to Colflesh Road, then included parcels that were part of their second application (GR-2). We refer to this new application as GR-4.
Our Zoning Hearing Board conducted hearings in April, May, and June 2015. A meeting was suspended in July due to vacations, and since then Gibraltar Rock has postponed the hearings because they were having testing done on the 18+ acres that are likely showing contamination.
These zoning hearings resumed on Thursday, Feb 4, 2016. Gibraltar Rock continues to present their witnesses, the next witness scheduled is Louis Vittorio, Hydrogeologist. He will attempt to explain his solution to the problem of blasting near a contamination site where the "hot zone" has not yet been located by the DEP, and a clean-up plan is not yet developed.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Our expenses include: One attorney handles the GR-4 zoning hearings; the other handles the land development & DEP permitting. When needed, they consult with an engineer from STA Engineer-ing. We pay for transcripts of meetings and have hired an expert witness for GR-4 zoning hearings.
At this time, with so much happening in 2015 and continuing in 2016, our expenses are very high. Our committee pays for all administrative costs. We need your help to pay the bills.
Please consider making a donation (use enclosed envelope) however large or small. Also, please check our website for more fundraising information, at: banthequarry.org. We have been doing this for 15 years, thanks to your support!