The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

June 30, 2014

Richland panel OKs strip mine expansion

JOHNSTOWN — A Fulmer Road strip mine expansion has received approval from the Richland Township Zoning Hearing Board.

The township’s board granted Rampside Collieries’ special exception request, albeit with a few conditions, including the requirement that the mining company put fencing around several retention ponds, zoning Solicitor Michael Sahlaney said last week.

“They met all of our special exception criteria,” he said.

The Berwind Corp.-owned land has a long history of mining.

The most recent company active there, Berlin-based Rampside, has been mining in the area for several years. Rampside now plans to mine an additional 18 acres on the site, a task that would likely occur over two years and start in 2015 or later, Rampside’s Minetech project engineer Todd Coleman said in May.

He said the small project would create four jobs and likely a dozen or so “spinoffs” to support the mine.

The expansion is awaiting state Department of Environmental Protection approval.

The township’s mining regulations require a lengthy review process of mining plans before granting a special exception. The township cannot regulate mining operations such as blasting to extract coal, but can regulate location to some extent, Sahlaney said.

Rampside’s plans met township criteria, including setbacks of at least 100 feet from the nearest roadway, Sahlaney said.

Plans also showed the company would use an existing haul road from the mine site to Fulmer Road to transport coal from the property.

Loaded trucks will be tarp-covered, Coleman told the board in the spring.

The zoning board, based on a planning commission recommendation, also instructed Rampside to provide a written guarantee that it will repair or replace an adjoining property owner’s water line if it is damaged, Sahlaney said.

David Hurst covers Richland Township for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/tddavidhurst.

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