A York County quarry operation is making one final attempt to use 16 acres of land it owns near a York City neighborhood.
York Building Products has given up on its pursuit of expanding its limestone-mining activities into the parcel, which the company bought several years ago from the owner of an adjacent cemetery.
Last year, residents of the city's Avenues neighborhood aggressively opposed the expansion plan, prompting the company to withdraw its application for a zoning change.
The company has since changed its request and is now asking for a zoning variance to construct a grass-covered berm and use part of the land for storage of what it calls "overburden," dirt and rock that's been removed from other parts of the quarry.
The land, a narrow strip that separates the quarry from Greenmount Cemetery, is zoned residential.
The requirements: To receive a variance, an applicant must demonstrate that the property is characterized by "unique physical circumstances or conditions" which prevent the property from being developed in conformity with the ordinance. The applicant cannot have created that situation, and the variance cannot "alter the essential character of the neighborhood."
"We are bending over backwards to ask for the bare minimum," said Joseph Clark, vice president and general counsel for Stewart Companies, York Building Products' parent company.
Clark said he sees the berm and storage scenario as a "win-win" for the company and residents because the berm will serve as a visual and sound barrier for the neighborhood.
The city's zoning hearing board, which meets Thursday at 6:30 p.m., will decide whether or not to grant the variance.
Joe Musso, the company's development consultant, said rejection of this variance would essentially render the property useless to York Building Products.
"We have nothing left to do," Musso said. "They can't back away any further than they have."
Commission input: On Monday, York Building Products received the blessing of York City Planning Commission members to construct a berm and use the land for storage — under a few conditions.
The commission's recommendation to the zoning board includes placing a deed restriction on the land to prevent it from ever being quarried.
York City's zoning officer, Steven DeMerritt, had recommended denial of the company's variance request.
Several residents attended Monday's meeting.
Keith Skotnicki said he doubts the berm will serve as a sound barrier. Instead, Skotnicki said, he believes it will be an "eyesore."
Chester Landis said he's concerned about the aesthetics and the potential disturbance to burial services in the cemetery.
"We have to try to work together," Landis said.
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