Appeal from the Order of the Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County in the case of Keystone Chemical Company, Inc. v. The Zoning Hearing Board of Butler Township and Butler Township, No. S-83-1984 and No. S-130-1984.
Richard L. Caplan, Schwartzman & Hepps, for appellant.
Leo Breznik, with him, Frank J. Toole and Thomas J. Pellish, for appellees.
Judges Rogers and Barry and Senior Judge Barbieri, sitting as a panel of three. Opinion by Judge Rogers.
[ 90 Pa. Commw. Page 214]
Keystone Chemical Company (Keystone) has appealed from an order of the Court of Common Pleas of Schuylkill County affirming the denial by the Butler Township Zoning Hearing Board (board) of a special exception to operate an industrial waste materials treatment plant.
In 1977, Keystone applied for, and received from the board, a variance permitting it to conduct an oil recycling operation on land located in the zoning district of Butler Township designated Mining. In 1978, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources (DER) issued a permit authorizing Keystone to operate a "solid waste disposal and/or processing facility"; additionally, the United States Environmental Protection Agency issued a permit allowing Keystone to operate a hazardous waste treatment plant. In 1979, Keystone leased the land from the City of Philadelphia for a term of thirty years.*fn1 The tract is underlain with abandoned coal mines which lie at least 500 feet below the surface. The surface is supported by a barrier pillar. The tract borders on Shenandoah Creek. Two underground potable water lines serving neighboring residences transverse it. Three public roads provide access to the site.
Also in 1979, the board issued a second variance and a building permit authorizing Keystone to erect and operate an oil processing plant on the leased site. Keystone constructed this facility, including a single, asphalt-lined earthen cell, which it filled with chemically
[ 90 Pa. Commw. Page 215]
neutralized wastes. Keystone began operations in 1980.
On May 10, 1982, DER personnel inspected the site and discovered forty-four violations of DER regulations. Keystone later filed an application with DER to amend its permit so that it might replace the asphalt liners, which had become cracked and eroded due to weather exposure, with plastic liners. DER then issued an order on September 1, 1983, ordering Keystone to cease its commercial waste processing operation until Keystone had replaced the liners to DER's satisfaction. Keystone suspended operations and has not resumed them.
In 1983, Keystone, under new ownership, filed an application with the township's zoning hearing board for a special exception to store, process and dispose of industrial waste materials, including hazardous and toxic wastes. Keystone would construct two buildings for processing industrial waste and additional impoundment cells and leachate collection basins to treat and contain the runoff from the neutralized waste. The board denied Keystone's application, and the trial court, which did not receive additional evidence, affirmed on the record made at the board hearing.
The parties agreed that Keystone's proposal for a special exception was a light industrial use permitted as a special ...