Approval Granted for New Mine Portal in Perry Township

Washington PA Observer Reporter
8 July 2014
By Bob Niedbala, Staff Writer

WAYNESBURG – Greene County Planning Commission granted preliminary approval Monday to plans by Dana Mining Co. of Pennsylvania to construct a new portal for its 4 West Mine off Watkins Run Road in Perry Township.

The 22.39 acre site is on the east side of Interstate 79 about a mile north of the Mt. Morris interchange. An air shaft and hoist house and a 16,100-square-foot bath house will be built on the property.

Kevin Rakes, a company engineer, said the site will include 203 parking spaces though only about 180 will be needed at the maximum during shift changes.

No ventilation fan will be installed at the site and the company has agreed to plant shrubs and trees to create a light and noise buffer between the portal and the nearest residence, he said.

In response to a question, Kevin Hatfield, another company engineer, said no improvements will be made to Watkins Run Road. Improvements to the road were planned when the company considered using the shaft to bring equipment into the mine; however, it decided to use the site only for workers entering and leaving the mine, he said.

To receive final approval, the company must submit an approval letter from Perry Township and submit an approved storm water management plan.

In other business, the commission approved a modification requested by CNX Gas Co. to allow work to begin on pad construction at the company’s proposed compressor and metering station off McQuay Road in Center Township.

The company had received all necessary approvals for the station from the state Department of Environmental Protection including a storm water management plan but then was asked by the township to move the access road.

This required the company to receive a permit modification from DEP for the access road only. Daniel Bitz, CNX permit manager, told the commission both the township and DEP agreed the company could proceed with the pad construction while it waited for the DEP permit modification for the road.

Commission solicitor Kevin O’Malley told the commission that under the commission’s land development ordinance, the commission could approve the modification if it deemed the request reasonable. Commission member Eric Marshall voted against the motion.

The commission granted preliminary approval to plans by Accessible Dreams, a non-profit organization, to construct a four-unit apartment building on Route 188 in Jefferson Borough for people with disabilities.

Two abandoned houses on the site, purchased by the county redevelopment authority, will be demolished to make space for the building.

The commission granted final approval to plans by Regency Marcellus Gas Gathering LLC to add a compressor to the Chevron Milesky metering station off Oak Forest Road in Center Township. The compressor will be enclosed in an 825 square foot, steel building insulated to reduce noise.

The commission continued a discussion from last month’s meeting regarding revisions proposed to the county’s subdivision and land development ordinance. The commission voted last month to recommend several changes to the ordinance to the county commissioners.

The most significant change will allow the commission to approve projects in phases and give it the authority to ask developers to submit performance bonds for each phase.

Other amendments will require a developer or his representative to be present at the commission’s meetings to explain the project and require developers to include on their plans any proposed noise controls, retention walls, towers, transmission structures or off-site water discharges that do not flow directly to a stream.

O’Malley told the commission Monday that the changes had been discussed with the county and was told the county commissioners had suggested the planning commission also consider revisions that would address oil and gas development and campgrounds.

O’Malley noted regulating oil and gas development at the local level is currently in a “state of flux” because of a Supreme Court decision that threw out the part of Act 13 that restricted local municipalities from using zoning to regulate oil and gas development.

Municipalities normally enforce zoning, which deals with land use as opposed to land development which is addressed by the commission’s ordinance; however, the commission could include regulations in its ordinance to address issues such as setback requirements for municipalities that do not have zoning ordinances, he said.

Commission members discussed both regulations involving oil and gas development and campgrounds but seemed to agree those issues should be addressed by the municipalities through zoning ordinances.

Robbie Matesic, county director of development, said the planning department can discuss these issues with the municipalities when it has workshop meetings with them in regard to changes in the subdivision and land development ordinance. The department also could offer to assist those municipalities that want to adopting zoning ordinances, she said.