Nottingham to set conditions on proposed coal mine

April 18, 2013
Neighbors have erected protest and informational signs around a Nottingham Township farm along Little Mingo Road where a coal operator plans to open a new mine. - Scott Beveridge / Observer-Reporter Order a Print

Nottingham Township supervisors are considering nearly 60 restrictions to place on a coal operator planning to construct its above-ground facilities for a new deep mine in a rural area of the municipality.

The items under consideration involve the township’s response to a conditional-use application filed by Ramaco of Lexington, Ky., to build a coal mine portal, bath house and other structures to support its above-ground needs for the proposed mine on a farm it purchased on Little Mingo Road.

“We’re working with everyone involved to build a list,” Supervisor Doug King said Thursday. “It’s brainstorming.”

The supervisors plan to act on the conditional-use permit application when they meet at 7 p.m. May 6 in what is the first of many steps Ramaco needs to take to open the mine, King said.

The most difficult step involves obtaining a deep mine permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection, a process that could take two years to complete, he said.

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.

King said the proposed mine has pitted “neighbor against neighbor” in a quiet area that would be disrupted by coal being hauled from the mine in large trucks. Some neighbors who oppose the mine have erected several large signs along Little Mingo seeking support and alerting residents to the time and date of the next supervisors’ meeting.

Ramaco did not return a message seeking comment Thursday.

The company has done its homework, King said, because it purchased property for the mine in an agricultural zone where the state allows companies to extract minerals.

“We’re a small step for them,” he said.

He said one of the conditions that will be included involves lifting the township permit if Ramaco does not obtain permission from the state Department of Transportation to haul coal on Little Mingo. Others on the table involve such issues as lighting, the need for vehicle washing to keep down coal dust and the planting of trees and shrubs to hide the industrial complex.

Meanwhile, Nottingham property owner Sue Ryaby approached Ringgold School Board Wednesday asking it to express concerns about school bus safety on narrow Little Mingo Road.

“There are no center lines there now,” said Ryaby, who lives next to the Hudson Farm. “There are no shoulder lines, school bus stop signs. We’re out to try to stop this.”

The company has said as many as 70 trucks a day would haul coal from the mine, following about five miles of Sugar Run to Route 88.

Ringgold Superintendent Karen Polkabla said the district will write a letter to Nottingham expressing a concern about the truck traffic.

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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