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Board Denies Request to Allow Coal Mining on Mayview Property

The developer can appeal the decision.

The South Fayette Zoning Board unanimously denied a request from Aloe Brothers LLC to allow mineral extraction from the property of the former Mayview State Hospital.

About 50 people attended Thursday night's public hearing. Residents from South Fayette, Upper St. Clair and Bridgeville spoke out against the proposed surface coal mining. One Bridgeville woman said she was in favor of what the developers needed to do to develop the property.

Irving Firman, an attorney on behalf of Upper St. Clair, also attended the hearing. Firman asked Dennis Regan, who is Aloe’s project manager, if he'd consider tabling the application to discuss the plan with Upper St. Clair Township officials. Regan said no.

Preston Shimer, president of USC Citizens for Land Stewardship, said he was concerned about the impact the mining would have on Wingfield Pines, Boyce Mayview Park and the Community and Recreation Center, and Fairview Park. 

Regan told the board the mining was necessary due to financial reasons and because of a water issue on the site.

Sean Isgan, an engineer for the Aloe project, said the proposed mining would take three years. Blasting would occur one to two times a week for two and a half years. He said people in the area may feel the light vibration during the blasting, but DEP and township noise ordinances would be followed.

The proposed surface mining would not go below 100 feet, according to Isgan, and according to DEP regulations, the dust would not be allowed to leave the site. 

Isgan said about 50 tri-axle trucks would transport the coal from the site every day, Monday through Friday. 

Aloe Brothers LLC applied for a variance and a special exception for mineral removal because the property is zoned a business district. Aloe Brothers LLC can appeal the zoning board's decision.

B February 28, 2013 at 03:40 PM
Well these additional details answer many of the questions I had previously and show that the board made a good decision. 3 years of mining will definitely reduce the property values of the nearby homes and both they SF and USC residents have cause for concern here. (Ref: The Impact of Surface Coal Mining on Residential Property Values: A Hedonic Price Analysis) Blasting one to two times a week? Vibrations felt? I would have concern over other issues the blasting might pose to the environment and nearby structures. I don't use the CRC pool but I am sure it would be a highly enjoyable experience for toddlers and children to have blasting while using the pool in the summer. (cue ignorant comment here). A DEP study done on blasting showed that even though blasting might not cause damage to homes, there can be a health hazard simply from feeling vibrations. 50 Tri-axle trucks PER DAY. That's about 5 trucks per hour assuming 10 hours a day. That's 13,000 trucks a year and 39000 trucks loads over the three year lifespan. How will this affect nearby traffic and road deterioration? A cursory search shows a number of studies that present there would be significant issues with the road due to this additional load and traffic. "Dust not allowed to leave the site"... unless they manage to construct a massive bubble, that's virtually impossible.
BobE February 28, 2013 at 05:52 PM
Well said, Bryan
Roger February 28, 2013 at 06:24 PM
Bryan, sit on Mayview Road for a 10 hour period and count trucks. You may choose a bright Spring day when the weather is pleasant. Do you understand how your concern about 50 trucks would fit into your count? I think not. We still await your information about the eyesore that will be the outcome of the development. Links, pictures, and even descriptions would be helpful to explain your "eyesore" concern. Has the site been an eyesore for the past 10-15 years since the site was abandon? Has the site been an eyesore for the past few months while undergoing demolition? The demolition undoubtedly will be underway for another few months. Will it be an eyesore during this time pejriod. Remember the plot of land north of Chartiers Creek a few years ago? It is the plot of land beside and behind the barn that was recently torn down. The plot was quite flat, an open meadow that was mowed down a couple of times per year, a place where people could walk, enjoy the outdoors, run their dogs, etc. What was a beautiful plot of land has been developed. Apparently, development ==> eyesore in your view. What happened to the plot of land behind the demolished barn, a plot that was beautiful, open meadow, and great for enjoyment?
B February 28, 2013 at 07:50 PM
Roger, as usual you make a weak argument without any facts. I travel Mayview road quite frequently and while I have not done a personal traffic study, I rarely if ever see large trucks traveling on that road on a daily basis. Let alone trucks with a full 20 ton load of coal. Nice try though. As far as the rest of your post... well, your age must be getting to you because I never mentioned "eyesore" in any of my posts although I am glad you were able to get your obligatory albeit obtuse opportunity complain about the rec center again. Make no mistake when Aloe Brothers bought this property, they had coal in mind FIRST. The family is a mining family. They claim the property was good for a 'mixed use commercial development'. Let's be honest here, this is not a prime location, its not easily accessible and there are business parks just down the road with vacancies. Interestingly enough, they applied for a zoning variance to mine when Sen. John Pippy, when presented with the question of a drilling rig on the property responded: "The potential of putting a Marcellus shale drilling rig here is zero," he said. "We would fight that all the way." I am a big fan of development and enhancement of our land but not at the cost of having a 3 year(although like any operation it would probably run longer than estimates) full scale mining operation right in the middle of our townships.
Dean B. February 28, 2013 at 08:26 PM
Bryan, you're absolutely right about the Aloe Brothers. They had mining in mind from the beginning. They're using the "development" excuse to dig for the coal. A quote from Dennis Regan of Aloe Brothers "You cannot build on top of it. You have to stabilize it.” He called the proposed mining, “not just a coal mining operation. It’s a dirt moving operation.” There is no need to dig 100 Feet to stabilize the land because of the coal, and to blast on top of that! As a land developer only coal near the surface needs to be removed to get to “virgin soil”. There are much less invasive ways to stabilize land without having to strip it that deep.
bob balmer February 28, 2013 at 09:05 PM
Aloe's goal is to get it the cheapest way!
Roger March 01, 2013 at 11:44 AM
I'm sorry, Bryan, but I not only drive on Mayview Rd, but work along side the road for a few hours each week, for most of the year. I see the traffic firsthand. The road is highly populated with tri-axle trucks, low-boys, 18 wheelers, buses, concrete delivery trucks, and other heavy vehicles. The 50 count is a small number. When the Rec Center was built, the truck traffic was heavy for the couple of years of construction. I see no answer to the change in landscape after the meadow area behind the barn was destroyed. As for the coal, let's take your assertion, "They were only interested in the coal" as true. I don't know that for sure, and am doubting you do either. If it to be true: So what?
Adam Rossi March 01, 2013 at 01:34 PM
The bulk of their argument was based on the "economics" of mining the coal to help with the development costs. This is specifically outlined as not being a component to issuing a variance. Their property is zoned B1 in which mineral extraction is explicitly not allowed. The Upper St. Clair lawyer also brought up some good points regarding variances being granted when surrounded by a park. And although everyone is still currently choosing coal as their primary source for electricity generation, let me remind everyone you don’t have to. (Solar hint hint) Stopping this mine from going into operation may only stop around ½- ¾ of a MILLION tons of coal from being burned (1000 tons per day x 260 days per year x 3 years), but just like every roof that gets covered in solar panels, it sends a message, and all the small pieces can add up to a whole. Let’s make this planet hold together for the grand kids.
Adam Rossi March 01, 2013 at 01:34 PM
From South Fayette Zoning Guidelines: "A variance is, and should be, difficult to obtain. So long as the property can be developed for some reasonable use (in conformity with the provisions of the Zoning Ordinance), the fact that is could produce more income or satisfy the needs or desires of the owner more thoroughly is not a sufficient basis for the award of a variance. Financial hardship will not be taken into consideration. Unfortunately, many applicants assume that a variance is something designed to permit the highest and best use of, or the greatest financial return from, their property where the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance limit its use or value in some way. This is an incorrect perception of a variance, and one that causes the applicant a great deal of difficulty when a case is based on that reasoning."

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