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Planning Commission Rejects Proposal for New Hanover Quarry
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2020-10-21

            New Hanover's planning commission voted not to support a proposal by a Bucks County concrete business to open a quarry. Last week, the five-person body unanimously approved a motion recommending that the township's board of supervisors reject final plan approval of the Silvi Group's most recent application, which had been preliminarily approved.

            Following a 10-minute executive session, the members voted near the end of a 4-hour, 20-minute meeting on Oct. 14 at the township's recreation center on Hoffmansville Road. Sue Smith, the committee chair who adjourned the meeting at 9:50 p.m., expressed discomfort with asking the supervisors to approve the applicant's proposal to mine two parcels south of Hoffmansville Road.

"It's not up to snuff," Smith said prior to the vote.

            Vice Chairman Linda Swagzdis said she did not believe the issues related to the required permits were properly addressed.

            "There are too many incomplete facets," said Swagzdis, whose term ends at the end of 2020. "This is not a clean plan."

            The current revision – the applicant's third since receiving preliminary plan approval in 2015 – does not meet the requirements detailed in the preliminary plan resolution, according to township Manager Jamie Gwynn.

            The plan before the planning commission was the third revision following the preliminary plan resolution secured by the applicant in 2015, according to the manager. He wrote in an email that the board of supervisors will consider the plan during an Oct. 26 public meeting.

            In September, the attorney representing the Silvi Group – Stephen Harris – submitted a revised version of a 2015 plan that had already received preliminary plan approval. Supervisors Doug Muller, Phil Agliano and Andrew Kelly voted in June of that year to approve the resolution, which allowed the proposal to mine 163 acres south of Hoffmansville Road to move forward. Brown and Ralph Fluharty voted against the resolution, which forces the Silvi Group to comply with a number of conditions identified by township consultants before the board can consider final plan approval.

            "It appears some of the issues mentioned in the review letters have not been addressed," Smith said during the last week's planning meeting.

            Last week, Harris accused the township of acting in bad faith. He cited its decision to unveil a presentation of slides identifying the parcels and geography of the proposed quarry, without presenting him with copies of the illustrations as evidence of that conclusion.
            Prior to the vote, Gwynn accused Harris of acting in bad faith. He implored the planning commission to carefully consider its next move.

            Gywnn also challenged commission Solicitor Andrew J. Bellwoar to invalidate the entire plan. Harris argued that his client is entitled to a recommendation of approval in accordance with the preliminary plan.

            During the meeting, the manager told the committee that the most recent submission was different from the plan that received preliminary approval more than five years ago. During the meeting, the township's consultants pointed out numerous issues related to the most recent submission.

            According to Bellwoar, the applicant had yet to acquire all the necessary permits. Adam Supplee, New Hanover's planner, pointed out that the inclusion of three separate uses – the quarry, as well as the production of asphalt and concrete – one identified parcel.
            According to Harris, the township's consultants suggested the concentration of uses onto one parcel in 2018. He said the situation could be resolved "with the stroke of a pen."

            Christopher Mullaney – a Red Hill attorney representing Paradise Watch Dogs/Ban the Quarry, a non-profit environmental preservation community group – urged the commission to oppose a recommendation. He said he would like to see the entire process, which dates back to 2001, come to an end.

            "It's time to end this ordeal," Mullaney said prior to the vote.  He described a recent ruling issued April 24 by a Commonwealth Environmental Hearing Board judge as a devastating blow against the applicant.


 

 

 

 

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