PLAINS TWP. -- The Board of Commissioners held a special zoning hearing Monday night to solicit public input about proposed amendments to a 2008 zoning ordinance that pertains to quarry operations in the township.
Month after month, township residents have complained to the board that the peace, safety and property value of their homes and community is jeopardized by the way the quarries are operated.
While complaints of property damage, pollution and rock-blasting disturbances are common, the issues raised most often concern the noise and speed of trucks carrying materials from the Wilkes-Barre Materials and Popple Construction rock quarries.
The intention of the 2008 ordinance was for the township to exert some control over all aspects of quarry and mining operations that township officials deemed to have a direct impact on the public.
The possible amendments to the ordinance will call for tighter, more specific measures regarding dust and overall air pollution, methods used to control that pollution, and the hours of operation.
The new amendments could also repeal the section of the ordinance relating to noise levels.
Several residents from the Keystone section, which is closest to the quarries, spoke of their dissatisfaction with the enforcement of the current ordinance and the proposed changes.
With regard to the hours of operation, the ordinance, in its current state, sets them firmly at 6:30 a.m. through 7 p.m. from Monday through Saturday, with operation prohibited on Sunday.
One proposed change would allow for the board to approve exceptions to the hours of operations for periods of up to three consecutive days in any week.
Each resident who spoke publicly was critical of this possible change.
Board Chairperson Ronald Filippini said the board did not necessarily have to pass the changes and could simply utilize township police and code enforcement officers to step up efforts at enforcing the ordinance as it stands.
John and Jack Kibblehouse, co-owners of Wilkes-Barre Materials, asked for a private meeting with the board before any vote was taken so that they might be given the chance to address some of the specific concerns contained in the ordinance and raised at the meeting.
Township Solicitor Stephen Menn noted the request, and said he would discuss it with the board.
After the meeting, several representatives from Wilkes-Barre Materials stated their operation was completely separate from that of Popple Construction. They pointed to complaints of individuals residing on East Saylor Avenue and said their vehicles do not travel that road.
They also said they operate with extreme caution on Ridgeway Road.
The meeting adjourned without any member of the board speculating on when the amendments might be voted on. The commissioners are scheduled for their regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.