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Lower Milford Zoning Board Denies Geryville Materials Quarry Application
Written by Mary Gibbs Kershner, Correspondent
2018-11-08

            After 14 years of legal arguments it took less than two minutes on Thursday night for the Lower Milford Township Zoning Board to deny Geryville Materials' application for a Special Exception for a quarry, concrete, and asphalt plant. 

            When the decision was rendered the packed municipal meeting room erupted into applause.  A resident of the township was overheard to say, "They saved the township." However, jubilation is premature.  Geryville Materials intends to file an appeal of the Lower Milford Township Zoning Board decision with the Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas within 30 days of the formal written zoning board decision. 

            The written decision is expected by December 31, 2018. 

            Over the last 14 years legal arguments and appeals concerning the proposed quarry located on 625 acres on Kings Highway and Mill Hill Roads have been heard at the Lower Milford Township Zoning Board and the Board of Supervisors, the Court of Common Pleas, and Superior Court. 

            In September three attorneys, who represent different interests concerning the quarry, presented their final arguments to the Lower Milford Township Zoning Board.  Each of the three attorneys knew his argument potentially could influence the zoning board decision in such a way that dramatically would impact the Lower Lehigh and Upper Perkiomen Valleys for years to come. 

            Attorney Stephen Harris, known for his expertise in zoning and quarries, argued on behalf of Geryville Materials that a zoning board must render a decision based on township ordinances.  Harris noted that in 1997 the Lower Milford Township Board of Supervisors changed the zoning at the site, which is residential agricultural, to permit a quarry and its accessory uses.

            Under the Pennsylvania Municipal Planning Code, Board of Supervisors are permitted to change ordinances of the township which are the laws of the municipality.  On the other hand, township zoning boards must follow what the ordinances require. 

            Attorneys Mark Cappuccio and John Rice presented different arguments from Stephen Harris.  Cappuccio, the Solicitor for Lower Milford Township, is a legal expert in land use and planning.  Cappuccio explained the township zoning board can take into consideration the health, safety, and welfare of the township when it renders its decision. John Rice, who has represented concerned citizens of Lower Milford Township Residents Association (LMRA) for the last 14 years and who was unavoidably absent when the zoning board made its decision, is a recognized legal expert in land preservation and land use. 

            Rice forcefully argued the State of Pennsylvania, Lehigh County, and Lower Milford Township have demonstrated their interest in farmland preservation by providing over $9.7 million dollars in farmland preservation money in the township. 

            Harris, expects Geryville Materials appeal will be heard by the Lehigh County Court of Common Pleas by the summer of 2019.  Harris expects a decision will be rendered by the fall of 2019.  
 


 

 

 

 

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