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Land preservation resolution defeated

Richard D. L. Fulton

(5/9) Two recently-elected Hamiltonban Township supervisors defeated a proposed resolution that would have established a township policy barring any future zoning changes to state-administered, former Glatfelter tree farm land.

The intent of the proposed resolution was essentially to send a message to the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR) indicating that Glatfelter land earmarked for preservation would no longer be granted zoning changes to accommodate land trades for commercial use.

The land is presently zoned Woodland Conservation District.

Supervisors LuAnn Dille and J. Edward Deardorff voted "No" to the proposed measure at the supervisorsí May 6 meeting, forcing a tie-vote which killed the resolution.

Supervisors Robert L. Gordon and Coleen N. Reamer had voted to approve the resolution, while Supervisor Douglas Woerner abstained. Deardorff had initially abstained, but subsequently asked to be changed that to a "No" vote.

The proposed resolution followed on the heels of a recently-approved conditional use application submitted to the township by Specialty Granules Inc. (SGI), formerly ISP Minerals, a local quarry operation that quarries metabasalt deposits for use in shingle production.

That approval followed a change of zoning from Woodland Conservation District to Industrial by the supervisors to facilitate SGIís plans for the acquired tract.

The 112-acre tract of land involved was previously part of the Glatfelter Tree Farm No. 1, formerly owned by Glatfelter Pulpwood Company, which had been acquired through preservation efforts (through the assimilation of millions of dollars) and made part of the Michaux State Forest, administered by the DCNR.

SGI (then still ISP) acquired the land through what some, especially among those who were involved in raising the funds to acquire the land for the state, viewed as a controversial exchange with the DCNR. Protests lodged by those involved in the preservation effort seemingly fell on deaf ears, and the trade was ultimately consummated.

Although the township supervisors resented the land deal, they never-the-less felt compelled to support SGI, a not-insignificant, township-based operation, when it became clear the municipality was fighting a losing battle to stop the trade altogether.

The attempted resolution proposed and defeated at the May 6 meeting was devised to send a message that no further zoning changes would be considered regarding the preserved lands still in DCNR hands.

Dille and Deardorff basically indicated they voted against the resolution to allow past issues with the DCNR to die, and move on. "I donít think we should put any stipulation on what they (DCNR) can do with their land," Deardorff said. "Iím worried about the future (as opposed to the past)."

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