SF Zoning board denies request for mining at Mayview

Published Feb 28, 2013 at 1:18 pm (Updated Feb 28, 2013 at 1:18 pm)

South Fayette Township’s three-member Zoning Hearing Board unanimously denied a special request application from Aloe Brothers, LLC to mine coal at the former Mayview Hospital property.

The company had requested a special exception or variance to mine coal on about 36 acres of the 160-acre property, which is zoned B-1. The strip mining would have taken place for about three years, if approved.

About 50 people attended the Feb. 27 meeting, many from South Fayette, but those residing in Bridgeville and Upper St. Clair were in attendance to voice concerns over the proposed mining. Some of the concerns raised were that of noise, environmental impacts and truck traffic the mining operation may bring.

Aloe Brothers project manager Dennis Regan stated that when the company purchased the property nearly two years ago for about $505,000, it had no idea the type of environmental problems the property posed. Regan said the company knew the buildings were built with asbestos, but Aloe Brothers decided “to take on the challenges.”

“We put it backs on the tax rolls,” Regan said of the Mayview property, which had previously been owned by the state. Regan said mining the coal on the property is “just a piece of the puzzle to help mitigate costs.” He added that South Fayette Township has “always been a part of the discussion” and said the township was aware that coal would have to be removed. “No one ever said, ‘that’s a bad idea,’” Regan said.

Regan added that when the company turned the power off to the property, several of the buildings’ basements flooded. “You cannot build on top of it. You have to stabilize it,” Regan said. He said that the proposed mining was, “not just a coal mining operation. It’s a dirt moving operation.”

Zoning Hearing Board member Fred Cardillo asked Regan and Sean Isgan of CME Engineering about the amount of truck traffic the mining would bring to the area. Isgan said the mining operation would net about 500 to 1,000 tons of coal per day with an average of 50 round trips per day. He said the trucks would have been tri-axle trucks. The truck route would have taken the coal from Mayview Road onto Boyce Road then to Washington Pike and to Morganza Road.

South Fayette Township Solicitor Jonathan Kamin asked Regan and Isgan if the land could be developed without mining. Isgan said that it could be, but not to the extent that it could be if the coal were to be extracted. Regan said “economically” it is necessary for development.

Kamin also pointed out that incidental mineral removal is not a permitted use in the B-1 zoning district.

Adam Rossi of Bridgeville said he was concerned about the environmental issues that could arise from the mining. He said Chartiers Creek, Baker Elementary, Boyce Middle School and recreation areas are all close to the property. He also added that the truck traffic would be a “giant burden on our communities.” Rossi said the developers have already profited with income from logging at the site.

Ed McClure of South Fayette was also concerned about the truck traffic. “People on Boyce Road don’t want any part of that,” he said.

Steve Killmeyer of Upper St. Clair said he can hear the demolition work on the property and said that he was concerned about talk of “tri-axle trucks filled with coal going through neighborhoods.”

Preston Shimer, president of Upper St. Clair’s Citizens for Land Stewardship group, said he was speaking on behalf for the thousands of people who use the parks in the area. He also said that with strip mining, storm water must be mitigated. “We have to be concerned about the aquifers in the region,” Shimer said. “The whole area is totally undermined,” he said, adding that the mining would impact the Upper St. Clair side of the property.

Irving Firman, an attorney for the Township of Upper St. Clair said he was concerned about the “potential adverse affects on the park.”

Megan Conroy of Bridgeville, who said she’d been following the Mayview property since it was sold, said that Aloe Brothers was doing the area a favor by removing the coal and trying to develop the site. “I get the coal side. They’re trying to do something good,” Conroy said.

Nick Rodi, who lives in a plan near the property, said, “Develop the land and forget about the coal.” He said that the 107 homes in his plan don’t want mining near them.

After the vote, Zoning Hearing Board solicitor Thomas Ayoob sad Aloe Brothers has 30 days to appeal the written decision. If appealed, Ayoob said the appeal would go to the court of common pleas and assigned to a judge.

Regan said after the meeting that it’s “not decided yet” whether Aloe Brothers will appeal the Zoning Hearing Board’s denial of the request.

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