The Upper Mount Bethel Township Board of Supervisors is being asked to halt a planned recycling facility opponents say would endanger environmentally sensitive land and increase truck traffic through the rural community.
Township resident Ron Angle, a former Northampton County Councilman, asked the Board of Supervisors Monday night to do everything in its power to nix the municipal Zoning Hearing Board’s Aug. 28 approval of a variance for MS Recycling, LLC to operate a recycling facility on property near the intersection of Route 191 and Lake Minsi Drive.
According to Angle, the facility would accept 40 daily truckloads of demolition debris such as concrete, plastic and other materials, which he fears would endanger environmentally sensitive land located at the headwaters of the Little Martins Creek. Angle said the zoning board should have never granted a variance to allow an industrial operation on the 13-acre property currently zoned for agriculture and open space.
Whether the Board of Supervisors will take formal action remains to be seen. The supervisors offered little input following Angle’s comments, saying they need to first review the Zoning Hearing Board’s written decision before proceeding any further. As of Monday night's meeting, the supervisors had yet to receive the written decision.
Angle called on the supervisors to consider two options: ask the zoning board to overturn its decision and hold a new hearing or appeal the zoning board’s decision in court.
Board of Supervisors Chairperson Judith Henckel said during the meeting that the supervisors need to gather more facts before formally addressing the matter, including a review of the Zoning Board’s forthcoming written decision.
“We will immediately check on this and do our homework,” Henckel said.
If the written decision is received in time, the supervisors could publicly discuss the matter as early as their next regularly scheduled meeting on Sept. 24.
According to Angle, MS Recycling was granted a variance for being “grand-fathered” as an existing industrial use prior to the creation of the agricultural/open space zone in 2005. Angle claims the position that an ongoing industrial use existed there prior to 2005 is “not true.”
The MS Recycling facility, according to Angle, would be operated by the same owner as the former Stine “stump dump” in neighboring Lower Mount Bethel Township. That operation, Angle said, was finally shut down after 17 years of complaints from neighboring residents over excessive smoke and other impacts.
Like Angle, other township residents in attendance expressed fears over environmental impacts on the property and increased truck traffic.
Angle also raised concern over whether all property owners within 200 feet of the planned facility received the required certified legal notice of the zoning board application hearing. If any of the surrounding property owners did not receive the required notice, township officials said another hearing may be required.
Different township officials said the zoning board’s decision to approve the recycling facility caught them by surprise.
“I knew nothing of this until this morning,” said Supervisor Robert Gerwig.
Angle said he was surprised about the lack of publicity for zoning board hearing on the MS Recycling application. “We need better notification,” he said. “Not everyone goes to look in the back of the paper for legal notices.”