Brown Township residents continue to express concern over proposed asphalt plant

REEDSVILLE – The Dutch Country Inn played host to a special Brown Township Zoning Board hearing for a proposed asphalt plant Wednesday evening.

The board gathered for the first of two days of the hearings over the proposed asphalt plant on Three Cent Road, Reedsville. A previous plan to build the plant was rejected by the township.

Dan Hawbaker, president and CEO of Glenn O. Hawbaker Inc., spoke on behalf of Center Lime and Stone, a holding company that is now petitioning to build the plant.

Elizabeth A. Dupuis, an attorney representing Center Lime and Stone, asked Hawbaker why the company has proposed the plant in this particular area and why it cannot continue to operate from the Armagh Township plant. Hawbaker said the company would like to use a natural gas line that runs under the proposed location to help reduce the operating cost of the plant.

The current plant could have one installed, but it would be more expensive and involves a higher risk, he said, than building a new, more efficient plant in Brown Township where the line already exists. Hawbaker also said while the property is near residentially zoned real estate, the property actually is slated for commercial use and already has utilities such as electricity and water.

Linus E. Fenicle, who represents a group of Brown Township residents, wondered how the plant would affect those residents and asked how the plant would operate. Hawbaker said he believes the plant and the area are compatible with the commercial businesses that already operate in the area.

“While we did not consult the residents who live nearby, we consulted the zoning map, which clearly shows the land is zoned for commercial use,” Hawbaker said. “Also, while I am not positive, I think one of our other asphalt plants are located near a residential area.”

Hawbaker also continued by saying the hours and the way the plant would operate would be variable as projects for the plant would differ.

After Hawbaker finished his testimony, Don Bauman, the operations manager of the Glenn O. Hawbaker asphalt plants, stated the company operates seven or eight asphalt plants in the state. In his testimony Bauman confirmed that the hours of the plant would operate differ between projects, but he was able to suggest some basic hours.

“Typically the plant would operate between the hours of 6 a.m. and could be operational until 6 p.m.,” Bauman said. “However some projects require night work, in which the plant would be operational at night, usually from 6 p.m. until about 1 a.m.”

Lynn Shultz, a resident representing herself, wondered how the plant operations at night would effect the residents. Bauman responded saying the lights should not affect the residents at all, but he did say an employee of the company who is designing the plant would be better suited to answer the question. Dupuis said more information on that was forthcoming.

Residents also were concerned about the materials being housed on the property and how the company would maintain the site.

“To minimize runoff of anything we have a plan to show the collection of the water, and the entire facility is paved to minimize the amount of dust getting into the air,” Bauman said. “Having the whole thing paved allows us to easily clean, which is something we always worried about.”

In terms of the materials housed, Bauman said, most do not pose a threat and the plant would be under regulations from the Department of Environmental Protection, which requires a yearly inspection and a three- or five-year inspection on the stacks where chemicals are being emitted. These are all of the government regulations that, Bauman said, most companies are under. Bauman said very few hazardous materials are housed on the asphalt plant property and he said in some cases it is hard to define a hazardous material.

“In terms of hazardous material, it depends on what you consider hazardous,” Bauman said. “We have diesel fuel, which is flammable, and the liquid asphalt, which we bring in to make the mixes for the roads, is flammable. There have been fires and explosions in the history of asphalt plants, but that happens at gas stations, too.”

He continued to explain that the liquid asphalt is stored at a high temperature, but as it cools it sticks to itself, which minimizes any effect it would have as a runoff liquid. At room temperature it is a solid similar to that of plastic, he said.

Many residents said they are also concerned about the amount of truck traffic that would be traveling along Three Cent Road.

“We would not have trucks stacked up along the road,” Bauman explained. “The trucks traveling on the road would be tri-axle trucks, similar to what already travels the road. Our trucks are on a loop during a project so we would only have two trucks in and out at a given time during the project.”

The frequency of the trucks would vary depending on the project, and the winter truck traffic would be “next to none” unless there ended up being an emergency paving project, he said. Bauman also said the number of trucks traveling through Reedsville would be reduced with the easier access to state Route 655 and U.S. 322.

The hearing will continue today at 6 p.m. at the Dutch Country Inn. More testimony is expected from employees of Glenn O. Hawbaker asphalt plants. Testimony of residents may also be heard if time allows. Zoning Board Solicitor John McCullough said if another night is needed, one will be scheduled.