Proposed asphalt plant causes concerns

REEDSVILLE – Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc. appeared at a lengthy meeting of the Zoning Hearing Board for Brown Township on Tuesday in an effort to move forward with its plans for an asphalt plant in Reedsville, a plan that has met vocal public resistance.

Hawbaker filed a request for a special exception to the current zoning laws which would allow it build and operate an asphalt facility in Brown Township.

Currently the almost 12.5-acre site where Hawbaker wants to put the asphalt facility is considered an industrial zone for light manufacturing. The special exemption request is needed because the plant would be classified as a heavy manufacturing facility.

Eric Kann, Mike Welch and James White, all representatives from Hawbaker, spoke to the board about their plans and were there to answer questions from board members.

The representatives from Hawbaker gave an overview of the facilities and the board and the public were then allowed to ask questions, give testimonies and present ideas.

Members of the public were not keen to the idea of the facility being built less than a half mile away from homes and less than two miles from a school.

Odor, noise, declining property value, pollution, traffic and health concerns were just a few of the issues brought up by the board and the public during the meeting, which lasted longer than four hours.

A local physician, Dr. Michael Murray, spoke about how the plant could cause health problems for residents. Murray, who lives near where the proposed facility would be built, stressed the negative health impact the asphalt plant would have on residents who live close by, along with the those who live at Elmcroft Senior Living Center, which is less than a half mile from the proposed plant site.

Hawbaker said its projections have on average 67 trucks driving to or from the plant via Carriage House Lane. Many members of the public expressed displeasure with the idea of having many three-axle trucks driving on a lane on which school buses pick up children and that residents use on a daily basis.

An idea was discussed for Hawbaker to see if it could use Three Cent Lane instead of Carriage House Lane for the trucks. Many members of the public were not thrilled with the idea of using Three Cent Lane either.

Mike Dillon, a resident who purchased property near the proposed asphalt plant site in 2011, said his children play near Three Cent Lane and stressed he would not like to have that many trucks driving so close to where his children play.

Sharon Brode, who sells real estate locally, spoke about how a facility such as the asphalt plant would harm the property value in the area.

Dillon explained he would not have purchased his property if he knew the plant was coming so close to him. Other members of the public agreed with Dillon.

The board went into executive sessions roughly every hour to determine whether the public comment period would continue.

The meeting was ongoing as of press time Tuesday.