A concrete processing site near Brattonsville should be allowed to operate, a county board has decided.
The York County Zoning Board of Appeals earlier this month reversed a county staff decision that would have prohibited the operation at 880 Brattonsville Road in McConnells, just across the road from Brattonsville.
Brattonsville is a 775-acre Revolutionary War historic site where reenactments and educational events are hosted throughout the year.
Efforts to obtain comment from Culture & Heritage Museums staff, which runs Brattonsville, and Robert Clawson, who owns the 170-acre property, were unsuccessful.
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“The appeal was made by the party’s attorney that the operation of concrete grinding or crushing could be interpreted as an accessory use to the approved landfill operations on the site,” said David Hudspeth, county planning and park services director. “A majority of the board accepted that position.”
In 2015, Brattonsville leaders opposed a site expansion on the same property. The leaders cited traffic, safety and an overall feel that doesn’t match the historical nature of Brattonsville. Last year, residents turned out to York County Council meetings in opposition of quarries or concrete facilities like the one in McConnells.
In 1994, the county zoning board of appeals granted a special exception that allowed a cellulose landfill on the Clawson site. It was about half a mile south of the Bookout and Brattonsville roads intersection. The total site is more than 170 acres, but the landfill would be nine acres.
The zoning code listed a cellulose landfill as one disposing of wood, stumps, brush and similar material.
In 2010, the zoning board allowed another special exception to include mining. The mining would cover five acres and have access limited to a haul road on the south side of the property, connecting to Brattonsville Road.
In 2014 another special exception allowed a composting and chipping facility. In 2015, Clawson applied for another exception to expand the mining. At that time county staff discovered mining shouldn’t be allowed because of county regulations against special exceptions on properties adjacent to historically or architecturally significant sites.
The county code not allowing those exceptions dates to 2000, though county staff says there’s been a version of the restriction since 1977. Deciding the exceptions from 2010 and 2014 shouldn’t have been allowed, county staff decided to let Clawson’s existing operation remain but not allow him to expand it.
County staff hasn’t issued anything that would allow a concrete or asphalt processing center. The property zoning doesn’t allow it. On Nov. 30, 2016, the county sent a cease and desist letter to Clawson after learning about what the county calls an illegal recycling operation. The county sent another cease and desist letter on Nov. 27, 2018.
That letter ordered Clawson to stop all “unlawful, non-permitted, non-complying activity” related to concrete or asphalt processing, including accepting material.
Clawson responded by appealing the county staff decision to the zoning board.
In a Dec. 27, 2018, letter to county zoning staff, Clawson’s attorney argued the disallowed uses are based on “an inaccurate interpretation of the referenced ordinance sections” and shouldn’t be cause for the cease and desist letters. The attorney also wrote the Clawson family received a state permit in 1997 for a landfill that included a required statement from county staff noting the uses met requirements.
The attorney cited a 2004 landfill application with a letter from the county manager, stating Clawson was in compliance. That application was a second state approval, replacing the permit issued in 1997 and a 2006 call to the state asking for permission to stockpile and crush brick and concrete for recycling. The state told Clawson, according to the attorney’s letter, that he didn’t need a permit but sent a letter giving him permission in 2014.
As of last summer, Clawson had 4,000 tons of asphalt, brick and concrete on-site. Clawson and his attorney argue the site has been recycling the material since 2006, with authorization by the county and state.
The zoning appeals board voted 5-2 to reverse the county staff decision. Members Tony Smith, Derrick Williams, Barbara Candler, Dennis Getter and Rodney Hicks voted in Clawson’s favor. Chairman Jeff Blair and Al Quarles voted against changing the county’s decision.