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Richland considers party status request for Springfield quarry bid

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Acting on the request of a resident, Richland Township will consider whether it should apply to participate, via party status, in the approval process for a new quarry proposal in neighboring Springfield Township.
 
The action was taken at the Sept. 14 public board of supervisors meeting, with next step being Township Manager Paul Stepanoff to contact his counterpart in Springfield for further information.
 
The request from the resident, which was received a few hours before the supervisors meeting, noted that the Coopersburg Town Council and the Coopersburg Water Authority had already applied for party status, while the Richland resident was among several local individuals who had already been denied.
 
The proposal for developing a 196-acre site, bordered by Mine Road and Salem Road, “a few yards” from Richland, had been discussed at the Sept. 8 meeting of the Springfield Township Board of Supervisors. In brief discussion at the Sept. 14 Richland meeting, officials noted questionable purview in a proposal for land not within its borders, but obvious potential impact from traffic on its roads. They also noted the need for legal counsel, and subsequent cost, to follow through on a party status.
 
The resident’s letter anticipated officials’ evaluating such “immediate financial costs,” and urged consideration of potential consequences of staying on the sideline as “long term damage to property, hinder potential future development and limit the possible tax revenues in the future.” It further noted the township as “relatively passive during the approval process for the Adelphia Greeenway LCC Quakertown Compressor Station in West Rockhill Township,” which was eventually approved, and which had brought Richland residents to ask for help at their supervisor meetings.
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In another quarry controversy, regarding restarting an already developed property in another neighboring township, and which also brought its residents to ask for help, Richland acted by ordinance to protect its roads. But officials noted then that Richland still had limited ability to do so, in adopting new rules that may have had questionable value in the face of any court challenge by the quarry owner, who also appeared at a supervisors meeting.
 
In addition, the township resolved to support challenges made by the county board of health. As it turned out, the restart proposal was halted.
 
Also at their Sept. 14 meeting, supervisors approved a one-year, “testing of the waters” of the health care aspect of a new contract for its police department, within a memorandum of understanding regarding the full contract proposal, that was understood as being acceptable to the officers.
Costs for sustaining the department at present levels, without a tax increase, have been a major consideration in budget discussions the last two years. A tax increase was absorbed by residents a few years ago, as needed to make their full-time department operational on a 24/7 basis.
 
During discussion, officials noted demonstrable, exceptionally strong support for the department in the community it serves.

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