Nottingham tables decision on new coal mine

April 1, 2013
Attorney Rebecca Bowman of Peters Township fields questions Monday from Nottingham Township supervisors during a public hearing on a proposed mine. - Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

EIGHTY FOUR – Nottingham Township supervisors postponed a decision at a public hearing on setting conditions or rejecting a Kentucky company’s application Monday to construct surface buildings and other facilities for a proposed coal mine that local residents oppose in their rural neighborhood.

Supervising Chairman Peter Marcoline said he understood the concerns of the nearly 150 people who crowded the hearing before announcing the board has 45 days to make a decision on the conditional use application from Ramaco of Lexington to construct a portal, ventilation shaft and bath house off 36 Little Mingo Road.

“We are probably going to propose a lot of conditions,” Marcoline said at the start of the more than two-hour hearing in the Nottingham Township Building on Sugar Run Road.

Ramaco, which formed in 2011 by New York-based Yorktown Partners Michael D. Bauersachs and Randall W. Atkins, has purchased 8 million tons of the former Mathies Mine reserves in Nottingham and Peters townships. The company is seeking permission from Nottingham to construct the mine atop 71.6 acres of land it purchased from the Hudson family in an area reached from a narrow road.

“We have no control about the mining itself,” Marcoline said, adding that mining permits are regulated by the state Department of Environmental Protection. “Our concern is the protection of the residents around the mine.”

Marcoline posed several questions regarding dust, lighting and the height of a spoil pile to Ramaco attorney Rebecca Bowman, who testified on its behalf.

Bowman said there will be no gob pile on site, that the mine will require the use of 67 coal trucks during one 10-hour shift a day to haul coal away from the mine, following state-owned roads. The mine is expected to employ 40 workers divided among two shifts a day.

“There will be no slurry pond and no mining under the creek,” she said before the meeting was turned over to questions from the public.

“We’re here to do whatever it takes to stop Ramaco from coming into our lives,” said Susan Ryaby, who lives on property that adjoins the site.

Other residents complained about the possibility their property values would drop because they bought into an agricultural area that could become an industrial zone.

“Our peace and quiet is going to be taken,” resident Lorraine Noel said. “With a truck every 4.7 minutes, that constant noise, for me, will be an aggravation.”

Former Ringgold School Board member Denise Kuhn of Nottingham said Little Mingo Road will not be able to accommodate such truck traffic competing with school buses and cars.

“My concern is, yes, our roads are not made for this,” Kuhn said.

Marcoline said the mine approval process will be lengthy as the company still needs to apply to the DEP for a mining permit and then come back to the township to deal with zoning issues. That process could take as long as two years.

Scott Beveridge is a North Charleroi native who has lived most of his life in nearby Rostraver Township. He is a general assignments reporter focusing on investigative journalism and writing stories about the mid-Mon Valley. He has a bachelor's degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master's from Duquesne University. Scott spent three weeks in Vietnam in 2004 as a foreign correspondent under an International Center for Journalists fellowship.

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