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Marlborough Supervisors Block Quarry Rezoning Request
Written by Ernie Quatrani, Correspondent
2024-05-15

            The controversial quarry rezoning request made to the Marlborough Township supervisors by Highway Materials Incorporated was rejected without a vote being taken at the May 8 board meeting after another contentious public hearing.

            The business was seeking expansion of the heavy industrial (HI) zoning designation on its property, some of which is now classified as residential. The change would have allowed more areas on the property to be mined.

            For the second consecutive month, the meeting room at the Marlborough Township municipal building was packed with residents opposed to the change in zoning status. Marya Schoenholtz, a Church Road resident, postulated that HMI's strategy in the early 2000s to buy up the residential property on the quarry boundaries – in order to eventually expand its operations– is now coming to fruition.

             "You don't get to decide where the boundaries are for quarrying," she said to HMI's representatives.

            Addressing the supervisors, Schoenholtz said, "We all knew we were moving next to a quarry, and we knew the boundaries of the operation, but those boundaries have been obliterated."

            She claimed that, in 2002, a quarry representative said – at a public meeting – "they were nearing the end of their mining".

            Attorney Stephen Harris countered that the regional planning commission found that the HMI proposal was "consistent with the regional comprehensive plan" and he said that rezoning would environmentally protect the property, especially the contentious area known as "the dogleg." 

            "Without the zoning ordinance being adopted, the quarry can mine that area because it's non-conforming," Harris said.

            Schoenholtz retorted that a 1998 agreement with Kibblehouse, the previous owner of the quarry, already protects the dogleg from mining "in perpetuity." She questioned whether two parcels, the former Landis and McKinley parcels, were classified as residential or heavy industrial.

            Harris said the HI classification extends partially onto those parcels now. "But the balance is definitely residential and that's what we're asking to be changed."

HMI does not now have the right to quarry on most of those parcels but would if the area is rezoned HI.

            Many of the 14 residents who spoke, including Schoenholtz, said they felt left out of the process.

            "I hope that for now, for all of our sakes, that we're being heard because we the people of Marlborough Township request that you deny this ordinance," she said to supervisors Billy Hurst, Brian Doremus and Bill Jacobs.

            Harris rebutted Schoenholtz by claiming the township has "gone out of its way" to keep the public informed during all steps of the zoning process. "It may be that people did not pay attention to the agenda, did not come out to meetings." 

            He noted that there were approximately 10 planning commission meetings and that he met with the regional planning commission.

            "Any suggestion that somehow something happened behind the scenes and not exposed to the public light is just incorrect."

            Later in the hearing, Doremus noted that, early in the years-long discussion, the PA Department of Environmental Protection made a full presentation about the quarry issues at a public meeting.

            After the formal hearing, Jacobs proposed a meeting between representatives from HMI and the residents to iron out differences which evoked calls of "no" from the audience.

            Harris stated a willingness to go Jacob's route but was met with derision from the residents.

            Hurst, the board president, then read the motion to amend the text of the zoning ordinance but neither Doremus nor Jacobs would second the motion. A motion to amend the zoning map met with the same fate.

            Effectively, HMI's request for rezoning was denied, but the quarry can ask for the process to restart any time in the future.


 

 

 

 

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