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Specialty Granules rezoning approved

Richard D. L. Fulton

(4/24) The Hamiltonban Township Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to approve a zoning change proposed by a local quarry operation amid a "packed house" of dozens of opponents and proponents at a special meeting held April 13.

The change-of-zoning request was submitted by Specialty Granules, Inc. (SGI), formerly ISP Minerals, seeking to change the zoning of a 110-acre parcel located in the township from the existing zoning of Woodland Conservation to Industrial.

Quarrying would not be permitted in the Woodland Conservation District, but could be allowed in an Industrial District as a conditional use.

SGI wants to quarry a significant deposit of metabasalt which lies in the 110-acre tract in question. Metabasalt is used as granules in the manufacture of shingles.

Supervisors Robert L. Gordon, Coleen N. Reemer, and Douglas Woerner voted in favor of the zoning change. Supervisors Harry Rood and James Grinder voted against.

The zoning change will permit SGI to expand its currently-existing quarrying operation into the 110-acre parcel in question, if the operation can also follow-up with the successful acquisition of a conditional use permit and other necessary state permits.

Speaking in favor of the zoning change before the vote was taken, Lacey Hammett, whose husband works for SGI, told the board, "It is not SGI that would be hurt (by a rezoning denial). The community would be hurt."

As for any environmental impact, real or imagined, Hammett said, "A lot of (SGI) employees are avid sportsmen. They wouldn't want the water source polluted...(or support anything) that would kill the deer, that would kill the fish."

The board's decision was initially to have been made at their April 4 meeting.

However, the board then decided to hold a special meeting April 13 to vote on the zoning request after attorney J. Dwight Yoder, representing "a number of property owners and tax payers" in the township, challenged the process of making a decision without previously advertising that the board intended to do so at the meeting.

Gordon told the News-Journal that the conditional use permit SGI would need to proceed with their quarrying plans is not a given. "I see the process as taking another year before they get through this (conditional use application – which they have not yet applied for). There will be other public hearing."

The board chairman described the conditional use permit process as "involved, thorough."

"They have to show us exactly what the propose, where roads will be, where will their buffers be, and what they will do to protect the streams, and on and on and on," he stated. "Then their application has to go to DEP (state Department of Environmental Protection) to get state permits."

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