Brown Township Zoning Board hears asphalt plant concerns

REEDSVILLE – Testimony continued Wednesday night for a proposed asphalt plant on Three Cent Lane in Brown Township.

Township Solicitor Jeff Snook finished his case with the expert testimony of the township engineer Charles Walls. Walls is a civil engineer for Buchart-Horn Inc., and had the opportunity to read previous hearing testimony, and attend some of the previous hearings. Walls said he has looked at Three Cent Lane several times, most recently on May 3, when he noted that the road in its current state would not be suitable for the additional truck traffic the proposed asphalt plant could generate.

“There is severe cracking in the pavement, which happens over time,” Walls said. “This can be caused by excessive loads on the pavement, which the road cannot endure.”

Walls said the problems with the road are fixable, however, and in order to meet Pennsylvania Department of Transportation standards, the issues would need to be fixed.

“To see what would need to be done, sufficient data would need to be compiled and testing would need to occur, which could happen during a traffic study,” Walls explained.

Snook said it has already been discussed that if the board would like a traffic study done for Three Cent Lane, the applicant, Center Lime and Stone, would incur the cost.

After Walls completed his testimony, Linus Fenicle, a representative for some of the residents living in the area the proposed plant would be constructed, stated his list of planned witnesses for the record. Fenicle said most of his witnesses are residents who would be affected by the plant.

Fenicle said an expert witness may also provide testimony at a later hearing. In total, 10 residents testified in opposition to the proposed plant.

Many of the concerns discussed – noise, smell, safety of children and elderly who live in the area – were shared by most of the residents who testified. Many of those who testified Wednesday also said they were unaware of the adjacent industrially-zoned areas and that they believed the surrounding areas had residential growth potential. One of these was Michael Henry of 67 Tillberry Lane.

“I am strongly opposed to this plant because when my family and I were looking for a house 366 days ago, we wanted a home that could provide growth,” Henry said. “We wanted to be in an area that would grow for both the community and be able to allow for the growth of our family.”

Henry also was one of many who said they chose the area because of the idea of being able to be outdoors without worrying about high volumes of traffic in their neighborhoods.

The residents also expressed concern for access to those dead-end residential roads that branch off from Three Cent Lane.

Many said they are afraid that there will be back-ups on Three Cent Lane, which will either keep them in or prevent them from returning to their homes for extended periods of time. When asked about response of emergency services to the area, some said it has never been a concern and that when there is a problem emergency responders can get through.

Neil Knepp, of 16 Sleigh Run, said he was mostly concerned about the added traffic and what that would do to the safety of the neighborhoods.

“On Wednesdays there is increased traffic everywhere because of the livestock sale and flea markets,” Kneep said. “What about the families that go to those things, the children who wait for the bus, or even the Amish that use the road with their horse and buggies?”

Many also said they bought the land or the house in the area because of its beauty. Melissa Kline was one of these residents.

“This is a beautiful area and we need to be good stewards to the environment,” she said. “How is an asphalt plant going to allow us to be in good harmony with what is around us?”

The next hearing of the Brown Township Zoning Board for the proposed asphalt plant will be held at 5:30 p.m. May 21 at the Dutch Country Inn in Reedsville, where area residents will continue testimony.