Officials Oppose Proposed State Quarry Bill, Again

POTTSTOWN PA – For the second time in as many months, Lower Pottsgrove’s Board of Commissioners voiced its opposition Monday (Oct. 3, 2011) to a proposed bill in the Pennsylvania Senate that would severely restrict its control over future use and development of quarries and surface-mined land.

For the first time, however, board members openly linked their concern to one of Pottstown’s prominent businesses: the quarrying and construction firm Haines and Kibblehouse, which trades as The H&K Group.

H&K's Sanatoga quarry is seen in a Google satellite map image. The company also owns some surrounding property that might, or might not, be covered by a proposed Senate bill

H&K owns what Manager Rodney Hawthorne said is more than 70 acres of property in the township, much of it in the Sanatoga operation of Pottstown Trap Rock Quarries at South Sanatoga and Linfield roads. Its representatives have talked for years with local officials about what H&K might do with that land once quarry operations end. Development of some kind, possibly for private housing or health care facilities, has topped its list of choices.

The company has taken an active role, according to Hawthorne, along with adjoining property owners in trying to ensure its comfort with zoning and land use rules that will govern real estate surrounding the Sanatoga interchange of U.S. Route 422. Part or all of the quarry could be located within the interchange district.

But Solicitor R. Kurtz Holloway warned that if Senate Bill 898 – languishing in paperwork before the Appropriations Committee since May (2011) – ever wins approval as written, Lower Pottsgrove would “lose almost all regulation of” surface-mined properties like those owned by H&K.

Under the bill, that control would be handled solely by state agencies without local municipal input. “I can see why quarry operators would like this” Holloway said.

Board members heard the same arguments raised during their Sept. 6 meeting, when they agreed to support Upper Frederick and neighboring townships in their request for regional opposition to the bill. Monday’s discussion, prompted by Holloway, brought its potential effects much closer to home.

Commissioners voted unanimously to have the solicitor draft a letter on their behalf that will be sent to state legislators.