Residents oppose extending quarry agreement
Journal Register News Service
Hilltown residents came out in droves to discuss concerns about possibly extending the Hanes & Kibblehouse Quarry 2005 agreement until 2045.
The current agreement between H&K and Hilltown Township expires in 2020, but if accepted, a proposed amendment would keep the quarry — located at 901 Minsi Trail in the Blooming Glen section of the township — open an additional 25 years.
According to H&K representatives, the reason they want to extend the agreement is because of the poor economic climate over the past few years. Scott Drumbore, manager of engineering and environmental services at H&K, explained that the materials and construction industry production has decreased, leaving extra reserves at Blooming Glen Quarry.
“Based upon the investment made in the operation and projected reclamation costs, it will be impractical for Blooming Glen Quarry to
abandon available reserves,” Drumbore wrote in a letter to the Hilltown Township Board of Supervisors.
Drumbore stated that if the agreement wasn’t extended, more trucks would need to be added to make sure all of the available reserves would be extracted from the quarry and then shipped to H&K Materials by the 2020 deadline.
In addition to extending the mining schedule until Dec. 31, 2045, the amendment would also include an increase in the quarry fee paid to the township from 10 cents/ton to 35 cents/ton, a change in the discount on materials purchased by the township from 5 percent to 10 percent and an annual quarry fee cap of $1 million.
“We’re getting something out if it, we don’t deny it. We have a product; it’s a valuable product,” said Joe LaFlamme, an attorney for H&K. The product LaFlamme was referring to is the red stone that’s used in architecture.
At a public forum Feb. 6, community members shared an open dialogue with members of H&K, giving their points of view as to why the majority of them didn’t want the agreement extended.
“It’s like we’re up against Goliath,” said Judy Greenhalgh, of Blooming Glen Road. “My fear is for the environment and for the infrastructure during the reclamation process.”
The reclamation process is something with which many of the Hilltown residents took issue. According to Drumbore, a 10-acre recreation lake would be added to the amendment, something that wasn’t included in the 2005 agreement.
“I get the mutual benefit for H&K and Hilltown, and that it looks nice on paper,” said a resident who lives on Blooming Glen Road. “But I’d like to get a much more immediate benefit with the original proposal for a walking trail and trees. I’m not going to get in my wheelchair 33 years from now and watch my grandkids swim in a lake.”
Another resident agreed. “The people of this township deserve a park that they’ve been looking forward to,” he said.
One of the reasons why residents were so distraught about the possible extension of the mining is because even once the contract expires, the reclamation process can go on for years, though H&K can’t say how long it will take. According to H&K owner John Haines, Point Pleasant, a significantly smaller quarry, has been in the reclamation process for about nine years. It’s currently three-fourths of the way filled and still has about two or three years to go.
Another resident, John Apple, voiced his concern about what happens once the mine activity ceases and the reclamation process begins.
“After the day they stop mining, the money will stop coming in xto the township] and the roads will keep getting torn out,” he said.
The lack of water and constant drilling and shaking were also problems residents said they had with extending the agreement.
“I sit in my 200-year-old house and it shakes and rumbles,” said resident Bill Stall. “I don’t hear the blasts, I feel the rumbling.”
Ken Rush, a lifelong resident, said neighbors have been waiting 25 years for the drilling and shaking to stop.
“This proposal is bold, audacious, almost outrageous,” he said.
Brook Rush shared the same sentiment.
“A quarry, just like people, has a life cycle. bverything comes to an end, and it’s time for the quarry to end,” said Rush.
According to Township Manager Richard Schnaedter, no date is set for the Hilltown Board of Supervisors to make a decision on the proposed amendment.
At the board of supervisors meeting Monday, Feb. 11, the board decided Schnaedter, Chairwoman Barbara Salvadore and township Solicitor Francis Grabowski would meet with an H&K representative to seek answers to the public’s and the board’s questions about issues such as tipping fees and the size of the proposed recreation lake.
Staff writer Meghan Ross contributed to this article.
Right, Kenny Gehman and John Patton take fasnachts out of the frier.