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Deep mine project in Washington County clears hurdle

| Monday, May 6, 2013, 9:03 p.m.

Nottingham officials on Monday night reluctantly cleared the way for a Kentucky-based company to seek approval for a deep mine project in Washington County.

Ramaco Inc. wants to build a mine operation on 42 acres zoned agricultural along Little Mingo Road.

The township's three supervisors unanimously approved a conditional use of the land with little discussion and no public comment, which stunned many of the 80 people in attendance. Many held up signs that read “Protect OUR Community. Say No to Ramaco!”

“I thought there would be some discussion, but they shut everybody down,” said resident Maureen Verlato, 66. “They just blew everybody off.”

Residents expressed their concerns at three previous meetings, including a public hearing on April 1.

The supervisors approved the conditional-use request but included 62 conditions on the pending project. Those include a requirement that the company is approved for a zoning certificate from the township after it is approved for a mining permit from the state Department of Environmental Protection. That process could take up to a year.

“This is far from over,” supervisor Chairman Peter Marcoline Jr. said after the meeting as he and fellow board members were peppered with criticism from angry residents.

Supervisor Douglas King said: “Not one of us wants this. We don't.”

Michael Bauersachs, Ramaco's president and co-founder, sat in the audience but did not speak. He did issue a statement.

In addition to obtaining a mine permit for the Little Mingo Road property, Ramaco intends to pursue other mining opportunities in the region that will create jobs, the statement said.

“We are committed to developing a safe and productive mine that is a good neighbor to those that dwell around us,” the statement read.

Officials with the Center for Coalfield Justice, based in Washington County, promised concerned residents that the process was not finished. An appeal of the conditional-use permit is possible, and concerns will be filed with the DEP, said Patrick Grenter, the center's executive director.

“This is just a bump in the road of a long process,” he said.

Jason Cato is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7936 or jcato@tribweb.com.

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