Public Outcry leads to a Strip Mine Permit Denial
View from the GAP bike trail, near Ohiopyle
Photo from Flickr User Vladdythephotogeek
The Fayette County Zoning Hearing Board has denied Amerikohl mining company a special exception for a strip mine near Ohiopyle State Park. Back in June, the Board held a second public hearing about the proposed strip mine that abuts Ohiopyle State Park. This second hearing was called because the first hearing packed the house, leading Thomas Kovalchuk, chief of permits and technical services at the Greensburg District Mining Office “to have another one…the size of the room was insufficient.” At these hearings, opponents said they feared Amerikohl’s plan to open the 500-acre surface coal mine that is adjacent to Ohiopyle State Park (State Gamelands #51) and would be as close as 1,000 feet to the Great Allegheny Passage, the popular tourist and recreation bike trail that connects Pittsburgh to Washington DC.
Known as the Curry property, the area is currently zoned for agricultural use. Amerikohl was petitioning the Fayette County Zoning Board for a zoning exception. According to the Mountain Watershed Association, the group spearheading the fight, mining cannot proceed without this exception and is separate from the DEP permit process.
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that “board members Mark Rafail and Jim Burns on Wednesday voted to deny the request from Amerikohl Mining. Member Michael Lucy abstained after his earlier motion to approve the special exception died for lack of a second.”
Concerns over noise, acid mine drainage and the operation’s impact on woodlands, streams, and drinking water were among the reasons cited for the denial, according to the zoning office.
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