Hearing set for proposed gravel mine expansion
Athens Township supervisors will meet next Wednesday to determine whether to grant a conditional use permit to a proposed gravel mine on a Wildwood Road property.
Simonds Excavating Inc. has applied for a conditional use to mine a 74-acre parcel north of Wildwood Road owned by Thomas and Irene Atchison. The hearing, originally scheduled for Sept. 19, was continued to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 3 at the request of the applicant's attorney.
Simonds Excavating previously applied for a conditional use to mine an approximately 50-acre area at the same property. Supervisors unanimously denied the conditional use during a June 2011 meeting, according to meeting minutes.
According to the transcript of the June 2011 hearing, the company has previously mined an approximately four-acre section of the Atchison property and seeks to expand its mining operations.
Judge Maureen Beirne of the Bradford County Court of Common Pleas upheld the supervisors' decision following an appeal filed by Simonds in the court.
At the 2011 hearing, supervisors felt Simonds Excavating representatives gave "insufficient testimony regarding traffic flow, appropriate screening and buffering, the potential for incompatibility with adjacent properties and the reclamation plan for the land disturbed by the mining operation," the decision reads. The board also felt the property was incompatible with the surrounding, primarily residential neighborhood.
Approximately 50 residents were in attendance during the 2011 hearing, according to the minutes. The transcript of the hearing states that public concerns at the time included increased traffic, noise and pollution as well as water and environmental safety concerns.
A "mineral extraction operation" is an allowed conditional use in the agricultural zone in which the parcel is located. However, according to the township's zoning ordinance, those requesting a conditional use for that purpose must demonstrate that the property provides access to a street capable of accommodating heavy traffic, submit plans to avoid soil erosion and sedimentation problems at the sites of proposed excavation, provide buffering or fencing along the perimeter of the excavation site and present a plan to restore the area to a satisfactory contour, among other regulations.
In determining whether or not to allow a conditional use, supervisors examine the effect the use will have on the existing neighborhood, whether it is compatible with existing and potential adjacent land uses and whether the specific site is an appropriate location for the planned use, according to the zoning ordinance.
Amanda Renko can be reached at (570) 888-9652; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.