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June 10, 2014

Richland panel wants changes for plan to expand strip mine

— Richland Township’s planning commission will return plans for an expanded Fulmer Road strip mine back to the zoning board with a few small recommendations.

The commission weighed in on plans detailing Rampside Collieries’ mining project, now 32 acres.

The plan requires a special exception, suggesting fencing be added around a site treatment pond.

The board will suggest requiring the mine operator to replace a private 2-inch water line in the project area if it is damaged or destroyed, planning commission member Ray McCombie said.

“Other than that, there don’t appear to be any issues,” McCombie said, noting an existing driveway from the site to Fulmer Road will continue to be used for the expanded project.

The commission voted Tuesday to draft its recommendations and return them to the zoning board within the 45-day review deadline.

Richland’s Zoning and Hearing Board, which handles special exceptions through the township’s mining regulations, will then consider the matter for final approval.

Zoning Officer Dave Mills noted Rampside currently has an active permit for part of the site, which has been mined off and on for decades.

The Berlin company wants to expand its mining area. Rampside initially proposed an 18-acre project, but zoning officials instructed them to add an earlier expansion of the project that was never approved by the township, despite state approval years ago, Mills said. Initial mining started at the site by a previous company before the township adopted mining guidelines, he said.

Rampside’s project engineer, Minetech’s Todd Coleman, said the mine is likely to create four jobs and a dozen or so spinoffs to support it.

If approved, the approximately two-year project wouldn’t likely occur until 2015 at the earliest, he said in May.

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

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