Colebrookdale Township commissioners approved a request by Martin Stone Quarries to alter the zoning map and begin mining 100 acres that adjoin the company's existing quarry in Bechtelsville.But before the municipality can change the zoning, the commissioners must hold a public hearing, post a notice in front of the property, and move for a zoning ordinance amendment that must be advertised for at least two weeks in a local newspaper.

The commissioners approved a "finding of fact," an amendment to an original Dec. 18, 1989 agreement, imposing a 100-foot buffer around the entire quarry and limiting the intensity of blasting to half of what the state Department of Environmental Protection allows.

Beginning this year, Martin Stone Quarries will be required to pay the township a fee of $25,000 annually until 2026. In 2027, the amount will grow to $35,000.

Under the previous agreement, from 1989 to 2006 the quarry paid between $5,000 and $11,000 in annual fees.

Township solicitor Jeff Karver said the decision is the beginning of the approval phase.

Commissioners Chairman Todd Gamler said the entire process could take months.

Last winter, the commissioners held a zoning hearing on the proposed expansion of the quarry, a 180-acre mine near Route 100 in Bechtelsville.

Part of the plan incudes transferring a blacktop and concrete plant, now located at the southern end of the property, 300 feet south. A buffer of evergreen trees and shrubs would extend to the property's southern tip.

The Martin family has entered into an oral agreement to purchase an adjacent plot of land from a neighbor that covers between 18 and 19 acres.

In other news

The commissioners directed engineer John Sarter to proceed with a traffic study, which could cost up to $2,000, to resolve a traffic light issue at Route 100 and Township Line Road.

Gamler said the traffic light, which cycles through too fast, allows only three cars on Township Line Road to go through the light before it turns red. Code Enforcement Officer Allen Stauffer said the light was timed to coordinate with a light at the entrance to Wal-Mart at the request of the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.

Representatives from Superior Water, a company based in Worcester, Montgomery County, discussed a water line for the proposed

Moser/Granahan development on Montgomery Ave. Superior contracted with the developer despite the recent expansion of the Boyertown Borough's water line in close proximity. Gamler, who opposed a proposal that would force the township to pay hydrant fees, says bringing in a private water line doesn't make sense. Stauffer said the builder contracted with the water company to avoid paying tapping fees.

Contact reporter Bradley Schlegel at 610-367-6041, ext. 240 or bschlegel@berksmontnews.com.

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