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A company that wants to build a new coal mine in Allegheny County will have its plan discussed at a public hearing this week. 

The Forward Township board of supervisors will hear from the public on whether to grant a special permit to the company to build the mine at a meeting at 7 pm on August 18 at Elizabeth Forward Middle School in Elizabeth, PA.

In 2018, the Coronado Coal Company approached the township about building a new coal mine there. But the company has one major roadblock: The current zoning of the over 950 acres that the mine would span is mostly zoned for residential and conservation use.

In February 2020, the company made an official challenge to the township’s zoning ordinance to allow for the extraction of minerals. At the same time, it filed for a zoning change to reclassify the land for industrial use. 

The plan could face local opposition. 

“Judging by the temperature of the community, the mine is not welcome,” said Tom DeRosa, chairman of the township’s board of supervisors. He fears the mine would decrease local house values as well as increase traffic, dust, and general noise.  

David Magiske, vice chairman of the board of supervisors, raised concerns that he and others in the community have over possible damage from the mine. Using the state’s premium calculator, he said he would have to pay 80 to 130 dollars a year for mine subsidence insurance for his house. He said the insurance often does not cover actual property damage as companies will contest the cause of the damage. “The insurance only guarantees you the right to sue,” he said.   

Magiske said the possibility of a mine has generated more anger in Forward Township than he has seen in the last 10 years. “Over a hundred years ago the township was a mining town,” he said. “People have seen what has been left behind and they don’t want it.”

At the meeting, supervisors will hear comments from community members as well as propositions from a company representative. After Wednesday’s meeting, the board is expected to vote on the issue at a future meeting. Regardless of what the board votes, the company, which did not respond to a request from The Allegheny Front for a comment, could go to court to try and secure its permits.