RICHLAND TWP. - Amerikohl Aggregates of Butler has re-applied for a Department of Environmental Protection large surface mine permit to mine 88 acres of Vanport limestone on a 233-acre site in Richland Township.

The application includes a plan for blasting.

The site is generally bounded by Chestnut Ridge Road on the east, Master Road on the west, Church Road on the South and Interstate 80 on the north.

Amerikohl first applied for a permit to mine limestone in the area in 2016 but after a series of legal challenges by opponents of the mine and lawsuits filed against Richland Township and homeowners near the site, Amerikohl withdrew the permit application in September of 2018.

The new application filed by Amerikohl is essentially the same as the first.

As of Oct. 8, the notice of application has been advertised for four consecutive weeks.

The fourth weekly advertisement opened a 30-day window within which there is an opportunity for anyone to write letters to the state Department of Environmental protection New Stanton office expressing comments, asking questions, requesting an informal conference or public hearing etc.

As he did when Amerikohl filed its first permit application, Master Road resident LeRoy Best opposes the mine and is encouraging other area residents to speak up on the subject.

"It is critical people understand this new application is still under review," Best said in a correspondence with the CLARION NEWS. "This 30-day window is an opportunity for them to write letters to the DEP and express their opposition to this proposed strip-mine.

"If this is not stopped, it will surely change Chestnut Ridge for many years to come."

The proposed mine

The permit application includes a request for variances to conduct surface mining activities within the right of ways of both Church and Jones roads.

If approved, the mine will open a pit approximately 4,000 feet in length from just south of Interstate 80 to just north of Church Road.

The mine would vary in width from 500 to 1,500 feet and could reach depths of 90 feet.

The proposed mining activities would require more than nine million cubic yards of Chestnut Ridge to be excavated and 2.6 million tons of limestone to be removed.

New permit, same worries, questions

In February of 2017, numerous Richland Township residents attended a board of supervisors meeting to voice their concerns about the proposed mine.

Neighbors told the board of supervisors they were concerned with issues involving traffic safety, noise, dust, drainage, water quality, structural damage and property values.

In January 2017, 35 local residents attended a public hearing at the DEP office Knox to express their opposition.

Best said he had questions for his neighbors and other nearby property owners.

"Do you want the peaceful, quiet, scenic beauty of Chestnut Ridge to be changed for the rest of your life," said Best. "Do you want a strip-mine along the top of Chestnut Ridge between Interstate and Church Road?

"Do you like your water?"

Best posed the questions, "Do you want blasting, noise and dust for the next ten years?

"Do you want a high volume of truck traffic on Master Road for the next ten years?

"Do you want Master Road destroyed because of this high volume of truck traffic?"

Best said the increase in heavy truck traffic threatens the safety of children and pets.

"Do you want Jones Road to be "taken out" when Amerikohl strips right through it?" said Best.

Other concerns expressed by Best include heavy truck traffic destroying the roads for the public for the entire duration of the strip-mine activities (10-years minimum) and the potential for loss of private water source or deterioration of private water quality.

"And there's the potential for property damage from blasting associated with removing the overburden and the three million tons of limestone," said Best.

Voicing your opinion to DEP

Best said anyone opposing the proposed limestone mine should "stand up, speak up, write a letter, request a public hearing and sign a petition."

Best added, "Tell the DEP ‘No strip mine' and tell them why."

The deadline for submitting public comment to the DEP is Nov. 7.

Comments and requests should be mailed to: The Department of Environmental Protection, New Stanton District Office, 131 Broadview Road, New Stanton, Pa., 15672.

All correspondence must include the writer's name, address, telephone number and a brief statement on the nature of the objection.