Helena Chemical proposal

Engineer Ann Reynolds shares proposed plans for improvements at Helena Chemical during Tuesday’s Warriors Mark Township meeting.

Some Warriors Mark Township officials were hesitant regarding a proposal for expansion/improvement at Helena Chemical along Pennington Road. Plans were brought forward at Tuesday’s Township meeting by engineer Ann Reynold and James Sebulsky, site manager at Helena.

Reynolds said that the proposed project at Helena has recently been rebooted. Permits have recently been received, as well as comments from the County and the Township planning commission. The next step is to obtain a stormwater consistency letter from Warriors Mark, Reynolds said. “PennDOT won’t issue our highway occupancy permit until we have our consistency letter.” She said that they were “pleasantly surprised” that PennDOT had no other technical comments.

Reynolds shared the proposed plans and said that there had been some concerns with regards to runoff for those downstream. However, she said that some areas surrounding the plant will have a soil amendment — a mixture of top soil and compost — to be more absorbent. Also, the developed part of the site is routed into holding ponds. By ordinance and permit, she said, no other additional runoff will be allowed other than what is pre-existing.

Township chairman Stewart Neff pointed out that there was concern with pre-existing runoff, citing a sediment pond, or depression/overflow for runoff, at Hundred Springs Road and 550.

Sebulsky said that he’s been at the site since 1986, and there has never been a sediment pond at that location. Reynolds agreed that there was a slight depression, but not an area that would retain the water. Reynolds said that the way the site is graded, more runoff would go out of the driveway at Pennington Road, that will be abandoned in the proposed plans.

Sebulsky said that he believes the changes will actually improve things and slow things down, with regards to runoff. “I need to trust the engineering firms and DEP to do the calculations,” he said.

Zoning officer David Piper said, “I have never done a plan where I took half the site and developed it, and said the other half stays where it is. It just seems highly unusual to split the site down the middle.”

Piper brought up prior concerns with runoff going down Hundred Springs and down 550. “It seems like we’re closing one eye and pretending there’s not an elephant in the room, because we can only see half of it,” Piper said. “There’s nothing controlling anything on the lower portion of that property. There’s a lot of impervious surface there... There’s a lot of rainwater coming down there.” Piper added that to just ignore half the site and let it go “bothers me a lot.”

Supervisor Rodney Marshall asked how hard it would be to put a basin where the new storage facility is proposed, or to move it back.

Sebulsky said, “I’m going to spend $1.2 million on a project that’s not going to generate any revenue. I have 10 years into this project. My competition built one on the other side of the river in Tyrone Township in two,” and added that it’s been a “frustrating process.”

Neff said that when the project is completed, the Township would like it to be in compliance. “I get phone calls with regards to the runoff. [...] It seems that it would be prudent to address all of it at one time. [...] You’d end up with a facility that’s state of the art and complaint-free from the local residents.”

Neff added, “We appreciate your facility. I know the farmers do in several counties that you serve.” He said that while he would like it to be successful, he would like it to meet all of the standards.

Reynolds said that they would be waiting to hear from Township engineer Mark Haefner regarding the stormwater consistency letter.

Julie White can be reached at jwhite@thedailyherald.net.

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