An agreement between opposing parties that places temporary limits on Bethlehem Landfill’s efforts to expand across approximately 275 wooded acres in Lower Saucon Township was reached in Northampton County court Tuesday.
The Morning Call characterized the agreement as a victory for opponents of the expansion proposal, some of whom are suing in an effort to stop it.
The newspaper reported that the agreement places limits on site activity such as the removal of trees until lawsuits challenging the township’s ability to rezone the land are resolved.
Lehigh Valley News reported that opponents of the expansion were seeking an emergency injunction to prevent work related to the expansion from being performed from Judge Abraham Kassis, prior to the agreement’s announcement.
The agreement means the landfill cannot remove living trees on the properties without first notifying the opponents, who will then have an opportunity to object in court, the news site reported.
In a news release Monday, the landfill opposition group Citizens for Responsible Development highlighted the issues that are at the center of the suits.
“The plaintiffs, consisting of several Lower Saucon Township residents and taxpayers, are alleging that the recent actions taken by Lower Saucon Township and Bethlehem Landfill Company violate the Pennsylvania Donated or Dedicated Property Act, the Environmental Rights Clauses of the Pennsylvania Constitution, Article I, Section 27, and the public trust,” it said. “The plaintiffs further claim that these actions violate existing Conservation Easements and potentially threaten the health, safety and welfare of the local community.”
“The core of the dispute revolves around ordinances that have rezoned specific areas from Rural Agricultural to Light Industrial, making it permissible to conduct landfill operations in areas previously protected for scenic and conservation purposes,” it added.
The Lower Saucon Township residents who filed the civil suit in August are Bruce and Ginger Petrie, Andrew and Tina Krasnansky, Bob and Elizabeth Blasko, and Bob and Cindy McKellin, who are being represented by attorney Gary Asteak.