Sunday, November 16, 2003

More on the Orange County shale mine

The Washington Post has this story on the dismissal of a lawsuit in state court opposing a shale mine in Orange County, Virginia.

The article describes the background of the suit: "A diverse group of residents from the hamlet of Barboursville has been fighting Tennessee-based General Shale Brick since December 2001, saying the company's plan to mine shale on a 139-acre tract would harm the environment, violate black residents' civil rights and wreck Barboursville's tranquil lifestyle with trucks rumbling through. The group said county supervisors violated zoning law when they approved a permit for the mine in April 2002. . . . The initial lawsuit by 38 plaintiffs leveled 10 charges, including that black residents would be disproportionately affected by the new mine. The digging site is about 25 feet from the edge of Careytown, a black community founded by former slaves after the Civil War."

The issues decided by the Court included whether the trucking of the shale was an accessory use to the use of the property for mining shale:

"Orange County Circuit Court Chief Judge Daniel R. Bouton dismissed eight of the charges last year. He allowed two to go to trial: that the supervisors were arbitrary when they approved the plan and that the plan violates zoning law because it allows trucks going to and from the mine to drive through a portion of a tract zoned for homes. Mining is not allowed on residentially zoned land in Orange.

In his ruling Nov. 7, Bouton wrote that there was "no evidence that the board's action was unreasonable" or that it acted arbitrarily. He ruled that trucks carrying the shale do not violate zoning laws because they are "accessory" activities to the main work, which is done on the portion of the land zoned for agricultural use that allows mining.

The notion that thousands of dump truck trips per year were only an "accessory" to the real mining work seemed outrageous to opponents of the new mine."

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