Prospective Sandy Township Mining Operation Draws Citizens to Public Hearing

DUBOIS – A prospect of a new mining operation in Sandy Township brought a full house to a public hearing Monday night.

Tri-County Supply Resources, Inc., through Henry Daugherty, had asked for a public hearing as part of a request for a conditional use approval to allow for mining to begin on his property. The mining would go down only 35 feet or until strata is hit. The main focus of the mining would be sandstone and shale.

The public hearing was required for any future appeal efforts by either party in the case of any decision made by the Sandy Township Supervisors. The official meeting required the presence of a stenographer, for those wishing to speak to join in a mass swearing in, and the signing an “entry of appearance”.

There were several main concerns regarding the mining: Daugherty will be initially starting the mining in a township right away, residents are concerned with their water supply and safety.

“My question would by why you would be coming into the right away,” asked Supervisor Brady LaBorde.

“United Electric would like to install a new overhead power line,” answered Daugherty.

According to Daugherty, United Electric had approached him with the news that they would be digging up the in-ground power line and replacing it with a raised one. After it there would be a 50-foot right away from the power lines to where Daugherty could mine. It is his plan to mine this section while United Electric is still in the planning stages.

“I think it’s very odd that you came here with no documentation,” stated David Ruckel.

According to Ruckel, none of the other residents in the area had known about this plan by United Electric. Having also worked for a utility company in the past had trouble believing United Electric would approaching Daugherty and no one else.

Daugherty had admitted he had no documentation with him proving United Electric was going to go through with this plan. Only stating it was their plan to do so whether or not this conditional zone use was allowed.

“Mr. Daugherty should be asked how many acres he is planning to mine here,” said James Naddeo, at the meeting representing the owner of a trailer park near the potential mining site. Naddeo is also the Lawrence Township Solicitor, which he brought up as reference to understanding the process the supervisors were going through.

Naddeo said this twice, the first time interrupting the Supervisors comment period. For that he apologized.

“I think it’s implied he’ll expand farther into this property,” said Naddeo.

The exact acreage to be mined was never stated. Only that the Department of Environmental Protection, according to Daugherty, prefers mining to be done at an acre at a time, and that his deed lists him as owning a little over 51 acres. The time frame for mining was also avoided.

The trailer park is home to 81 individuals and the owner was worried about the water system that pumps 80 gallons a minute from a private well.

According to Naddeo, the trailer park owner would have no problem if this mining had no impact on this $1.5 million water supply but threatened a lawsuit should it be impacted.

The water supply was a concern for many of the residents on Kilmer and Eddiger Roads. Most of those who attended the meeting in protest appeared to get their water from either streams or wells in the area. There was also concern for two nearby springs with native trout.

According to the township supervisors, Daugherty is bound by existing law to somehow restore any water source within a thousand feet of the mine that is disrupted because of the mining.

“DEP monitors this operation. They will not allow anyone to lose their water,” said Daugherty. This brought quiet, but audible, laughs from portions of the audience.

Daugherty has already been issued a mining operators permit. A permit authorizing to physically begin mining is linked to the township approval of the conditional zone use.

“If there were any concerns the DEP would have addressed them and not permitted mining,” said Daugherty in the regular supervisors meeting after everyone who was against the mining had left.

Besides water, the conditions of Kilmer Road were another concern to those present. Currently this road is the route the mined material will take out of the property. The road has a six ton weight limit, and any mining truck would have to be bonded to pay for damages to said road.

Weight limit aside, several citizens told the supervisors that the road is barely wide enough for two cars. There was tale about a bus that had its side mirrors broke in a close call.

“To have big trucks on that road scare me, and it scares me to have my daughter on the road,” said Sahlee Volosky, whose daughter is learning to drive.

“One woman said she was in two accidents. Another said she was in one. Numerous close calls.

Could you direct your boys up that direction?” asked Supervisor Jim Jeffers to Police Chief Don Routch in the regular meeting after hearing of the numerous accidents involving Kilmer Road residents involving normal automobiles.

Routch had missed the public hearing.

In the regular supervisors meeting the approval was tabled. By law the township has 45 days after the last public hearing to give an announced decision at a public meeting.

Mark Sullivan stated that he intended to drive up to the property to see the road conditions himself.

The supervisors thanked everyone for attending the public hearing.

“If you don’t show up we don’t think you care,” said LaBorde.

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