A decision in the legal battle between East Rockhill Township and Rockhill Quarry could be imminent.
Marianne Morano, East Rockhill township manager, confirmed that a trial in federal district court between the two parties has concluded. Now, it’s up to U.S. District Judge Gerald Austin McHugh to render a decision in the dispute.
“We are waiting on the judge’s decision,” said Morano. “It could be as early as Friday (Feb. 22) – but that is not definite.”
Richard E. Pierson Materials Corp. has been working the quarry in support of its $224 million contract to provide asphalt for about seven miles of the Northeast Extension.
Last year, the municipality sued Pierson and Hanson Aggregates Pennsylvania, the site owner from which Pierson is leasing, to obtain an injunction on quarrying activities.
The township asserted that the quarry has essentially been inactive for decades, thereby requiring Pierson to obtain special exception approval from the township’s zoning hearing board to conduct activities. With special exception hearings before the zoning board ongoing, the township wants the judge to impose an injunction on the quarry.
The quarry operators met the municipality’s legal salvo with a suit of their own that asked for the injunction to be dismissed and for the township and the elected members of its board of supervisors to pay monetary damages. Pierson and Hanson maintain that they’ve met regulations to have kept a quarrying permit active and that quarrying operations are the purview of the state Department of Environmental Protection, not local municipalities.
The quarry has dominated discussion at township supervisors’ meetings since December 2017, when Pierson began operations.
In a letter to Judge McHugh, residents Ron and Mary Schulberger outlined the concerns of many residents who live near the quarry. They said they’re worried about asbestos being released into the air from mining activities.
They’re concerned about perpetual intrusive noise, ground water contamination, a lack of fencing that could lead to dangers, traffic from the estimated 358 quarry-related truck trips per day, the proposed operation of an asphalt plant, and more.
“Overall, there are many questions and concerns that have not been clearly addressed by the quarry operators,” the Schulbergers wrote.
“The residents have also not had cooperation from the (Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection). We need to be sure that our quality of life and our future health are safeguarded.”