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Sassamansville Fire Company Members Protest Ordinance Change
Written by Candace Perry, Correspondent

Township to appeal court judgment on quarry permits


            A vocal group of supporters of the Sassamansville Fire Company attended the Thursday, August 6 meeting of the New Hanover Board of Supervisors to object to the removal of the fire company's name from the township fire company ordinance.

            Though the removal of the language about the fire company as an active fire company was administrative in nature, the company's supporters interpreted the deletion of references to the fire company as eliminating the organization completely.

            The Sassamansville Company and New Hanover Volunteer Fire and Rescue Services merged following an agreement in 2014, and the last truck was run out of the Hoffmansville Road headquarters in 2016. Since then, the company has been functioning as a social hall, serving the community in various ways.

            Members pointed out that the fire company still wants to exist to support the community, and continue to be an active not-for-profit, with the bar and social hall still in business.

            Other members claimed bad blood between the two companies, and that members who had joined New Hanover had been "drummed out."

            New Hanover company president Matt Barnes said that was not the case, and that there were active former Sassamansville members at New Hanover. He also added that there were plenty of ways for Sassamansville members to participate at his company.

            Board chairman Kurt Zebrowski stated that the removal of the language didn't deny Sassamansville the right to function as it has been. "You can still have gatherings at your building. It can still be a community center."

            Township manager Jamie Gwynn said, "If Sassamansville wants to become a fire company again, we can have that discussion at a later time."

            The board voted to authorize the removal of references to the Sassamansville Company from the ordinance.

            In Gibraltar Rock quarry news, solicitor Andrew Bellwoar reported that the local "Ban the Quarry" group has joined the township in the appeal to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court over the decision of the Commonwealth Court to overturn a 2020 decision of the state Environmental Hearing Board to rescind Gibraltar Rock's mining permits.

            Additionally, the supervisors authorized Bellwoar to move ahead on filing an ethics complaint against EARTHRES Engineering with the Pennsylvania Department of State Professional Compliance Office. Experts investigating the information presented at the Environmental Hearing Board trial found it to be "misleading" and that the mining engineer was exhibiting "willful blindness."

            In personnel news, supervisors authorized a settlement agreement with the township, retired police officer Keith Youse and the New Hanover Police Bargaining Unit to "withdraw a grievance and other litigation involving a pension dispute." Township manager Gwynn said that there had been a problem with the township ordinance that had resulted in miscalculation of payments, but that the matter had been cleared up, and that Mr. Youse would be compensated for back payments he was owed.

            In zoning news, the supervisors authorized the advertising of an amendment to the zoning ordinance to allow anyone to raise bees within New Hanover Township.






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