Wayne and Dave Holbert are seeking a permit that would allow them to expand their bluestone quarrying operation, which is now about 10 acres, by an additional 40 acres. The application permit says that the acreage is located in a rural district, and that “operations will consist of blasting, crushing and screening of limestone rock within the permit area.”
If the area is located within a rural district, then it would be allowed with the issuance of a conditional use permit by the township. But if it is instead located within the township’s Delaware River Corridor (DRC) district, then, according to the Lackawaxen Township Zoning Ordinance, the quarry expansion would not be allowed.
Sean McGuinness, superintendent of the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River, wrote a letter to Brain Stuart, chairman of the Lackawaxen board of supervisors, which said that the acreage is, in fact, located in within the DRC district. As such, the proposed expansion is prohibited not only by the township’s own zoning ordinance, but also by “Land and Water Use Guidelines,” which were developed by the U.S. Secretary of the Interior through Congressional mandate back in the 1980s.
McGuinness wrote, “There are no conditions or standards that the township supervisors can impose on a 40-acre quarry operation in the DRC District to make the use consistent with the township’s ordinance, or the secretary’s Land and Water Use Guidelines.” He said in an email to The River Reporter that if the supervisors approve the permit, he will pursue the matter in court.
But the Holberts may argue, as they have in the past, that the quarry is not technically in the river corridor because it can not be seen from the river. According to sources familiar with the situation, the Holberts applied for essentially the same conditional use permit back in 2008, using that same argument.
The last time the argument surfaced, the question was not settled because the application was withdrawn. It is not clear what the supervisors might decide this time.
Supervisor Rich Krotcha said in an email that at a meeting in June the Holberts appeared before the township with two engineers, one of whom showed a cross-section map and maintained that the quarry is technically not in the river corridor.
He added in a follow-up email that according to the engineer’s study even from the New York side of the river, the quarry can’t be seen unless one travels 200 feet or so up the mountain. He wrote, “Looking at the cross section of the two states with the Delaware River shown, the quarry is beyond the river corridor.”
Wayne Holbert, one of the brothers, said he would speak about the matter after this reporter read the transcript of the last meeting, which was not possible before deadline.
The supervisors are expected to make a decision on the permit on July 20.