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UDC: new members and a spirit of cooperation for 2012

January 11, 2012

New faces were at the helm and around the table as the Upper Delaware Council (UDC) kicked off the new year at its January 5 meeting. After acknowledging the new representatives, retiring UDC chairman Larry Richardson handed over the gavel to Town of Lumberland representative Nadia Rajsz, who will serve as chairman for 2012.

Rajsz, who last held the post in 2004, said “things were a little easier” at that time, and encouraged council members to work together. “I’m hoping for 2012 that we act more as a cohesive body in protecting the river valley,” she said. “That is our charge.”

Before the meeting concluded, Rajsz saw that hope realized as council members settled on several letters, two of which had been stalled at previous meetings.

The first letter pertains to the application by Wayne Holbert that seeks to expand two existing five-acre mining permits into one 40-acre major mining permit at the Holbert Brothers Quarry in Lackawaxen Township, PA. The letter cites the UDC’s objections to the permit, noting that the quarry is “already out of substantial compliance with the Land and Water Use Guidelines in the River Management Plan,” (RMP) and further requests a public hearing.

While an earlier committee meeting on the matter failed to move the letter to the full council, a discussion initiated by Richardson brought it back into consideration. “Any project this size we typically would want to comment on,” he said. “There’s never been any effort on this council to shut these people down or not allow them to operate, so this could be an opportunity for some discussion between the parties. Maybe there’s an opportunity for some compromise to see if there isn’t a way for all of us to win.”

Town of Highland representative Andy Boyar agreed, adding, “All we’re asking for is to have a seat at the table to open a dialogue or discussion.” Town of Hancock representative Fred Peckham agreed, but added that the discussion should have taken place earlier in the process. He noted that the RMP makes provisions to address individual property owners to satisfy a non-conforming condition.

National Park Service Superintendent Sean McGuinness said that he had spoken to Holbert earlier that day and “it’s looking like we’re going to be able to come to a pretty good solution.” McGuinness reminded the council, “All you’re asking for is a hearing to specifically look at the conditions of the permit.

It’s an opportunity to review the permit conditions and talk about it. It would be prudent that you go on record asking for a hearing.”