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Rockhill Quarry dispute continues with health questions


The East Rockhill Board of Supervisors will not appeal a federal court decision that predominantly favored Rockhill Quarry, a site on North Rockhill Road that has been at the center of legal and zoning disputes within the township for about a year.

In a statement released April 1, supervisors said that they will, however, be continuing to “vigorously contest” the issuance of several permits from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection related to the quarry’s mining activities.

Supervisors also said that quarry-related health and safety issues raised by residents are now properly before DEP. Concerns have centered on airborne asbestos pollution, groundwater contamination and depletion, and other issues.

“The board of supervisors remain committed to doing whatever is feasible and legally permissible to guarantee that the quarry operators comply with all applicable local, state and federal rules and regulations,” the board’s statement said.

In his March 6 ruling, U.S. District Judge Gerald Austin McHugh denied East Rockhill’s request for an injunction on the quarry’s activities.

Furthermore, McHugh barred the township and its supervisors from trying to enact various restrictions on quarry operations. The township also can’t require the quarry to obtain land development approval before installing new equipment or buildings related to the mining operation, McHugh ruled.

Still, the ruling wasn’t a total slam dunk for quarry operator Richard E. Pierson Materials Corp. and site owner Hanson Aggregates Pennsylvania. McHugh remanded the dispute over the quarry’s proposed asphalt plant to the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas, where East Rockhill can continue the fight against the proposed facility, which has residents fearing pollution and quality-of-life-destroying noise.

Supervisors’ statement indicated that a key reason they’re refraining from an appeal is because to do so could re-open the asphalt plant question, something the township doesn’t want, as McHugh’s remanding of the matter to county court was seen as a potential positive for East Rockhill.

While there won’t be an appeal, the supervisors’ solicitor plans to file a request asking the federal judge to clarify aspects of his decision. The intent is to get a clearer understanding of “township requirements regarding future construction or building at the quarry site,” supervisors said in their statement.

In December 2017, Pierson began working the quarry in support of its $224 million contract to provide asphalt for about seven miles of the Northeast Extension.

The quarry had been almost entirely dormant since the early 1980s.

Residents who live near the quarry were shocked when Pierson’s mining activities commenced.

The township and quarry have been battling before East Rockhill’s Zoning Hearing Board for about a year, too. The next hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. April 29 at Bucks County Community College’s Upper Bucks Campus, Student Common Area, One Hillendale Road, Perkasie.

In December, asbestos was found at the quarry. That prompted mining operations to be halted. DEP is investigating.