Lehigh Review Request Irks New Windsor Citizens

Cement Company Says It Isn't Satisfied With Earlier Agreement

May 12, 1991|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff writer

Lehigh Portland Cement Co. is asking the County Commissioners to renegotiate a bond agreement for a new quarry in New Windsor that had been signed by the previous board.

The move has raised red flags with members of a New Windsor citizens group, but a former commissioner said it doesn't surprise him.

Former Commissioner Jeff Griffith, now a Westminster attorney, said he expected the Union Bridge company to approach the current board"to try to get more lenient terms.

"It's kind of like, let's takeadvantage of the new guys," he said.

"The original indenture was fair," he added.

An attorney for the New Windsor Community Action Project said the group is not happy with the revisions because they appear to open the door for the company to mine a larger area than it has permission to do.

That is not the company's intent, Lehigh plant manager David H. Roush said. He said the legal document was revised because officials at Lehigh's corporate headquarters in Allentown, Pa., were not satisfied with it.

"We're certainly not trying to take advantage of anyone," he said. "The current Board of Commissionersis quite competent and will be able to make judgments on the changeswe have requested."

The commissioners received a revised copy of the document, called an indenture, early last week.

Commissioner Julia W. Gouge said she was satisfied with the first agreement, but iswilling to hear Lehigh's reasons for changing it. She said Friday she had not read the revised document.

Commissioner Vice President Elmer C. Lippy Jr. said Thursday that he had not read the revised document. Commissioner President Donald I. Dell could not be reached for comment.

County Attorney Charles W. Thompson Jr. would not commenton the indenture.

The document is a guarantee from Lehigh that itwill provide adequate roads, health safeguards and reclamation plans, among other things, for a quarry it plans to build outside New Windsor.

The company, which operates a quarry and cement plant in Union Bridge, owns 750 acres between Route 31 and Old New Windsor Road, about two miles southwest of New Windsor.

Lehigh has received approval from the county to begin construction on the initial phase of itsmining plan, a 186-acre plot with a 66-acre quarry. The indenture must be signed before the company may begin work on the site.

The company has plans to expand the area it will use for the mining operation to about 300 acres, including a 132-acre pit.

The county is developing a comprehensive mining plan, and NEWCAP members have urged county officials not to give approval for more work at the site until the mining plan is adopted.

Clark R. Shaffer of Westminster, attorney for NEWCAP, said, "In our opinion, the revisions give Lehigh more ammunition to, in the future, claim the county cannot change the zoning classification to prohibit mining on lands in the Wakefield Valleyarea."

Lehigh lawyers deleted references to the comprehensive mining plan in the revised version of the document, but left untouched asentence that says the company agrees that the indenture refers onlyto the initial 66-acre area.

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