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PA Supreme Court Vacates Lower Court’s Ruling on Gibraltar Rock
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer

            The Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently overruled the Commonwealth Court regarding a proposed quarry in New Hanover. On Dec. 21, the high court issued a ruling that sends the case back to the lower court. At issue is a decision by Pennsylvania's Environmental Hearing Board (EHB) to deny Gibraltar Rock its mining permits.

            The unanimous decision -- which vacates and remands a Commonwealth Court ruling from June 30, 2021 -- will further delay a final decision of the quarry on 241 acres along Church Road, near the intersection of routes 663 and 73, according to Chris Mullaney, a Red Hill attorney representing Paradise Watchdogs/Ban the Quarry.

            He described the ruling as a victory for the environmental organization and the township, co-appellants in the case.

            According to township Solicitor Andrew J. Bellwoar, the Supreme Court's ruling supports a decision by the EHB to deny the Silvi Group a mining permit. The Bucks County company did not challenge the municipal board's authority to deny the permit.

            In its appeal to the Commonwealth Court, the business raised only one issue: was there sufficient evidence to support the EHB's April 24, 2020 decision to rescind, and not remand, the mining permits?

            The court ruled that the permits should have been remanded, not rescinded, because -- among other reasons -- Gibraltar Rock's rights to the permits were violated when the permits were rescinded, according to a Dec. 22 email message from Bellwoar.

            "The township has been arguing all along that it is beside the point to quibble over whether there is sufficient evidence to support a rescission versus a remand, when the evidence clearly shows that the permits should never have been issued in the first place," the solicitor wrote in the message.

            The Supreme Court ordered the Commonwealth Court to revise its decision based on the issues cited by Gibraltar and arguments made during a May 18 hearing. The Commonwealth Court did not address whether there was substantial evidence to support the two findings as Gibraltar had urged, which were related to the potential cleanup of the Hoff VC site.

            The Supreme Court ruled that the board erred in rescinding the permits based on the department's actions rather than Gibraltar's, according to the opinion written by Justice Christine Donohue and joined by Chief Justice Debra Todd and fellow Justices Kevin M. Dougherty, David N. Wecht, Sallie Updyke Mundy and P. Kevin Brobson. 







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