Zoning approval appealed for Western Kentucky Minerals mine

The Kentucky Resources Council (KRC), representing a number of local residents, has appealed to the Daviess County Circuit Court a zoning approval by the county for a strip coal mine planned by Western Kentucky Minerals Inc.

The appeal, a copy of which was posted to the KRC website on Sept. 2, challenges the Aug. 2 final action of the Daviess County Fiscal Court in adopting and approving a recommendation of the Owensboro Metropolitan Planning Commission to change the zoning classification of the relevant properties from A-U Urban Agriculture and A-R Rural Agriculture to EX-1 Coal Mining.

Several individual landowners, including Western Kentucky Leasing LLC, were named as defendants/appellees because they are identified as owners of properties that were rezoned through the Aug. 2 decision, and because they are listed as applicants for the zoning change that is the subject of this complaint. Western Kentucky Minerals is listed as a defendant/appellee as an applicant for the zoning change that is the subject of the complaint.

The appeal said the decision to approve the requested zoning map amendment was arbitrary, capricious, and otherwise inconsistent with law since neither the Planning Commission nor the Daviess County Fiscal Court provided sufficient findings of fact based on the record before the commission to support the decision to approve rezoning of the subject properties.

The Planning Commission was asked to recommend rezoning of about 692 acres, after an initial request, later withdrawn by the applicant, was covered about 385 acres of rural residential and agricultural land in order to allow a strip mine on the property, the appeal noted. The revised application was a new request that including significant new areas and affected additional land owners, the appeal said. A failure to allow each affected or potentially affected person full opportunity to address the evidence in the record violated the due process rights of the public and requires reversal of the Fiscal Court decision, which was grounded on recommendations developed on a flawed record, the appeal added.

The appeal doesn’t give a name for the planned mine in question. Western Kentucky Minerals is currently seeking a Section 404 Clean Water Act permit for a new surface mine area in Daviess County, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers office in Louisville, Ky., taking public comment on the application until Oct. 4.

The proposed project area, approved by the Kentucky Division of Mine Permit under permit No. 830-0094, is a 377-acre surface mining operation, said a Corps notice. The project is located on unnamed tributaries and adjacent wetland located north of Knottsville in Daviess County.

U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration data shows Western Kentucky Minerals as controlled by Anthony Lanham and that it has three operations registered with that agency: the Joe’s Run surface mine in Daviess County; the North Knottsville surface job in Daviess County; and the Joe’s Run processing facility in Daviess County. The Joe’s Run mine has been in production for some time. North Knottsville, on the other hand, was first listed with MSHA on March 12 and went into production in the second quarter of this year, producing 15,972 tons during the quarter.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.