FELL TWP. – At a well-attended meeting Monday night, residents and supervisors addressed two prominent issues in the township: an experimental mine reclamation project and wind turbines.
Supervisors motioned to formalize an agreement with Scranton-based law firm Myers, Brier & Kelly LLP at an hourly rate of $425 to provide the township with a legal opinion regarding its dispute with Laflin-based Pioneer Aggregates and its Simpson Stone Quarry on Route 171.
The quarry received approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection to use re-crete – a slurry of Portland cement and construction and demolition waste – to reclaim 2.5 acres of mine land. Called “C&D fines,” the material is essentially leftover debris from construction and demolition projects. The project is the first of its kind in Pennsylvania.
Township officials believe that using the waste constitutes a landfill, which violates the quarry’s zoning, whereas quarry representatives have said the project is safe and beneficial. However, DEP approval does not trump zoning.
As a result, the township’s zoning officer cited Pioneer Aggregates shortly after it began using re-crete in June, and the firm will go before the township’s zoning hearing board on Wednesday to appeal the zoning violation.
“So far, the township has done everything it’s supposed to do,” said township solicitor Joseph McGraw. “It’s being handled correctly.”
Township resident Jennifer Carachilo questioned why nothing was done sooner.
“This is another month of them putting all those chemicals into the ground, and nothing is done,” she said.
It’s an unproven experiment, said Supervisor Andy Gorel.
“We’re the guinea pigs for everyone here,” he said, adding that “we should have shut them down after the first truck.” The DEP allows the quarry to truck in up to 1,000 tons of C&D fines each day.
The township is also working on an ordinance amending its zoning for wind turbines. About two months ago, officials from Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources approached the township with plans to construct two wind turbines, said Board of Supervisors Chairman Joseph Trichilo.
Earlier this year, NextEra, doing business as Waymart Wind II LLC, presented informal plans in Carbondale Twp. for a 24-turbine wind farm that would span several municipalities.
Planning Commission Chairman Mike Rock said the commission gave the supervisors a proposed ordinance establishing restrictions such as noise levels and setback requirements for wind turbines.
The township is looking to consult with a zoning expert who is knowledgeable in wind energy to work on the ordinance, McGraw said. NextEra can still request a permit in the interim, but it will be bound by whatever criteria the ordinance establishes, McGraw said.
Township resident Brandy Collins, who said one of the proposed turbines would be 500 feet from her property line, asked McGraw if the firm could construct wind turbines before “asking for forgiveness later.”
“We cannot stop them from getting a permit,” McGraw said. “If they do start construction, on the day we’re completed with our ordinance, we can send our code enforcement officer out there … and say, ‘these things are wrong, they have to be changed.’ ”
The township will hold a zoning hearing for Pioneer Aggregates at 7 p.m. Wednesday, and supervisors will entertain public comment on the wind turbine regulations during their next supervisors meeting Sept. 3 at 7 p.m. Both meetings will be at the Fell Twp. Municipal Building, 1 Veterans Road.
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