A cement company’s plan to expand a quarry in Richmond Township has raised concerns about losing farmland and the effect on Moselem Creek. Allentown-based Lehigh Cement Co. barely uses a limestone quarry on 206 acres its owns along Eagle Road in Richmond. But the company hopes to use the quarry there full time in addition to a facility in Maidencreek Township. Lehigh Cement project man ager Dennis G. Wanner said the company doesn’t want to wait until the Maidencreek quarry is emptied. "In our business, you have to plan 10, 20 years in advance, he said after a Richmond Township Planning Commission meeting Monday night. The land is in an agricultural zone, so Lehigh Cement needs approval from the Richmond planners and zoning hearing board to expand the quarry. The land is a working farm, and some planning commission members said it should stay that way.
"Allowing the expansion of the existing quarry is not in the best interests of Richmond Township or the majority of residents," Chairman David P. Bascelli said. "The Lehigh Cement land is located on prime agricultural land." The planning commission voted 3-2 for a resolution to stand behind engineering firm LTL Consultants, Oley Township, which has cautioned against Lehigh Cement’s expansion and the possible effect the mining could have on Moselem Creek. And if the zoning hearing board allows mining, the planners want to have some say in placing conditions on the operation. Commission members Sheree Combs and Ken Schlegel cast the dissenting votes. "We can’t let emotions, even though that’s part of this, get in the way," Combs said before the vote. Schlegel said the planning commission’s job is to make sure Lehigh Cement goes through the approval process properly. "Every one of us has used concrete and live in concrete houses," he said. "That’s a fact of life." Planning commission member Linda Partridge proposed several conditions, including requiring Lehigh Cement to periodically test water in Moselem Creek, use trees as a buffer to neighborhood homes and plan for reclaiming the area when the quarry is depleted. A zoning hearing on Lehigh Cement’s plan is set for March 27. A time and location will be announced. The hearing was postponed Feb. 13 because of bad weather.