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Lehigh Cement Co. has asked the state if it would be willing to amend an agricultural land easement to allow the company to expand its operations, which include a transportation line between its New Windsor quarry and its plant in Union Bridge.

Stacy Schaefer, program manager of the state’s Rural Legacy program for the central and western parts of the state, said she has received a verbal request from Lehigh to amend an agricultural easement in the Union Bridge area. Schaefer said she asked the company for more information in writing, and has yet to receive a response.
Schaefer said that her department plans to have an open and transparent process involving the request, and is planning an online public hearing forum to be conducted first, followed by a live public hearing. No timeline has been set for when these hearings will be held, she said.

Kent Martin, plant manager of Lehigh’s Union Bridge plant, said his company is diligently exploring transportation options to move stone quarried in New Windsor to the Union Bridge plant. Those options include trucks, rail or an overland conveyor belt system, Martin said. But between the two towns lies a lot of agricultural land under preservation easements, Martin said, and his company needs to know if those easements could be changed.

“Otherwise, it would be impossible,” Martin said of building a transportation line between the two locations.

Martin said Lehigh is hoping to know more during the company’s second quarter this year, at which time it will release more information about its transportation plans to and from the New Windsor quarry.

Ralph Robertson, manager of the county’s agricultural land preservation program, said he hasn’t received anything either from Lehigh or a landowner in the Union Bridge area who is looking to amend an easement. Robertson said that if he does receive such a request, it will go to the Carroll County Agricultural Preservation Advisory Board, which would investigate the situation and make a recommendation to the Carroll County Board of Commissioners.

A similar situation arose in 2005 when Granville “G.” Hibberd, whose family owns a 286-acre farm across from the New Windsor Middle School, suggested removing the agricultural land easement from 70 acres of the property so that the land could be used for a county recreational park. The agricultural preservation advisory board recommended the county not pursue the project, Robertson said, and the commissioners voted to follow the advisory board’s recommendation. Bill Franz, a Linwood area resident, said he’s worried that deals are being made behind the scenes and that the scattered homeowners throughout the area will be left out of the process.

“So many things are being done in secrecy,” Franz said. “I think it’s a travesty to go through ag [preservation] land to accommodate a corporation.”

Schaefer said the community will be notified about the process once it begins.

“We’re at such an early stage,” Schaefer said.

Reach staff writer Carrie Ann Knauer at 410-857-7874 or

Lehigh New Windsor Quarry Expansion: The Story So Far

In the early 1990s, the Lehigh Cement Co. announced plans to mine 66 acres of nearly 200 acres identified at the New Windsor quarry site as containing stone that could be used for producing cement. The 66 acres were believed to contain a very high grade of white limestone, free of common impurities, that could be mined and sent to a Lehigh plant in York, Pa., that specializes in this white cement. However, when mining engineer Joe Risley was hired by Lehigh in August 2006, he brought a new perspective to the site.

The old plan would waste the dolomite layered in between and around the limestone, Risley said. Dolomite is not a prime cement material, he said, but if mixed with such high grade limestone, it would still make good cement.

Throughout 2007, Lehigh officials discussed the possibility of expanding the quarry operations in New Windsor and keeping the high grade limestone for local use in Union Bridge instead of the York facility. After running the plans by the corporate offices, the Union Bridge plant officials received approval and decided to move forward with a plan to mine more stone from New Windsor.

Lehigh is still waiting for a specific site plan from its consultant, but has begun to inform New Windsor and Union Bridge’s town councils of their plans, as well as the broader community.

The company will need to submit a new mining permit application and site plan before any work can begin. For now, the company is not sure when that will be. Union Bridge Plant Manager Kent Martin said that the company is exploring transportation options for moving the New Windsor stone to the Union Bridge plan but does not expect to make any announcements until the middle of the second quarter. Martin said Lehigh officials will coordinate another community meeting with the New Windsor Community Action Plan to share its plans once they are developed.