, the Millington Quarry on Tuesday night presented its final expert in a proposal before the to someday transform the quarry pit into property usable for residential development.
But that doesn't mean the hearings, which began last November, are over.
The Planning Board's attorney, Stuart Koenig, at Tuesday's meeting offered a "tentative" handful of names of consultants and professionals representing the township who can be expected to provide input on the quarry's application. That next step is scheduled to begin at the next scheduled Planning Board meeting on March 20.
Residents, who have been questioning each of the expert witnesses for the quarry, also will be given time to offer testimony on the plan.
An attorney for the quarry, Michael Lavigne, said a stay on legal disputes between the quarry and township is due to expire on April 27.
"It's always been our goal to try to complete that process within that time frame," Lavigne said on Tuesday night. However, even if the quarry owner is able to gain the recommendation of the Planning Board, Lavigne said the Township Committee is responsible for giving final approval to the plan.
The decades-old quarrying operation has a long history on its 180 acres off Stonehouse Road, and in its relationship with the township.
The quarry is required by law to update its so-called reclamation plan every few years. While previous plans were approved, a disagreement with the Township Committee over details meant the most recent previous proposal, presented in 2008, never received final approval.
But in presenting this application, experts for the quarry have testified that the quarrying operation is within about a year of the end of its life. Meanwhile, the state Department of Environmental Protection was called in to oversee what remedial clean up needs to be done by the quarry, after township consultants discovered contaminated soil being brought onto the site prior to 2008. That led to a lawsuit that now is on hold pending the outcome of the latest reclamation plan.
More than a half-dozen experts, includingon Feb. 8, have testified about plans for bringing in topsoil, creating a , regrading the property and more. Multiple experts representing the quarry outlined how a portion of the property could be turned into a meadow where houses may someday be built.
However, Lavigne by specifically pointing out that the current proposal is not to build houses, which he said would require a completely different application.
On Tuesday, Frank Getchell, a hydrogeologist, testified that rock fractures at the property would maintain the projected level of the proposed lake by allowing excess water that may enter the lake from a storm to drain out through an underground water pathway, much of it leading into the Passaic River.
Getchell testified that an envisioned lake at the closed Millington Quarry would function in a similar fashion to a smaller lake in a former quarry pit in Bernardsville.
Upon being reminded that the lake in Bernardsville has an outfill structure to release water if necessary, Getchell said he believes that outfill was used only once, during Hurricane Floyd back in the 1990s.
Getchell said much of the harder basalt rock at the quarry has been removed during quarrying operations, exposing red shale that is more porous. However, he said that a pond that is due to be enlarged into a lake is "pretty much" lined with basalt. Upon further questioning, he testified that he did not see a necessity to line the lake with rock rip-rap, as proposed in the quarry's plan.
The quarry's final witness on Tuesday—and in the presentation of the application—was landscape architect and licensed planner Bruce Davies, who described the grass and plantings that the plan would use to make the quarry "green again."
Davies said the meadow where houses may someday be built would be reseeded with a mix of grasses and wildflowers, and planted with a variety of trees.
Davies outlined other plans are to plant thorny and prickly shrubs to provide a further barrier leading to a fence designed to keep people away from rock cliffs; add to existing foliage to stabilize slopes; and plants to help filter silt in riparian wet areas that will drain into the lake.
After the conclusion of Davies' testimony, Lavigne said the quarry reserves the right to call back those witnesses who already have testified—or even additional experts—to answer any issues raised by the public or township professionals.
The quarry has been contributing to an escrow fund to cover the cost of consultants for the township.