September 8, 2021 - It was a packed room for the Madisonville City Council meeting Tuesday as community members sat in on the first reading of a controversial mining ordinance.
Council members considered four versions of the ordinance that would allow mining company, Warrior Coal, LLC to mine within certain city limits.
Each version addresses the depths of mining allowed as well as determining where it can take place.
“[It looks at} how to protect the surface owner, how to protect the mineral owner," Mayor Kevin Cotton said. "It’s kind of a balancing act if you will.”
Concerns were raised after initial maps put boundary lines close to or along property lines, so the coal company recently presented new maps to the city, pushing those lines farther away from residential areas.
They're changes, Mayor Cotton said, are necessary for this project to move forward.
“[Warrior Coal] has worked extremely hard at trying to work with the community, and listening to their concerns and understanding what their concerns are," he said. "The technology in mining today is much different than what it was in the 70s and 80s, which is what a lot of our citizens are remembering of what that coal mining experience was like.”
But still, those changes are not enough to give much of the community peace of mind. The reading was opened to public comment and several people addressed the board with their persisting concerns over the mining project.
“Subsidence, when it occurs, doesn’t recognize a line on a map,” one man said.
"It was hard to really get an idea of where those yellow lines fell against the property lines of my neighborhood," one woman said.
One man raised one of the biggest concerns of the night, asking whether mining will take place not just next to private property, but under it.
“It seems to me if my house is there and it’s undermined, how is that going to affect the sellability of my house if a person goes and they find out, well it’s been undermined but this one next to it for sale is not, well is that going to affect the sellability of my house?" he asked the board.
Though, both Cotton and City Attorney Joe Evans clarified that every version of the ordinance states mining will not be allowed within 250 linear feet of any residence without written consent.
"There is one, maybe two structures that are affected in this proposed mining area," Cotton said. "However, both those property owners are requesting that their coal be mined.”
The council did not make any decisions Tuesday, but it will vote on the matter at the next meeting in two weeks.