South Fayette Township’s Zoning Board denied a proposal Wednesday night to allow developers to mine for coal at the former Mayview State Hospital site. Many residents were opposed to the traffic and environmental hazards that would have come with the mineral extraction process.
Hundreds of people showed up for the meetings held when Mayview State Hospital was in the process of closing. The former state mental hospital had housed thousands of people in the century plus it was open and many in the mental health community were invested in what would happen with the nearly 200 acres it sat on in the South Hills and wanted to make sure the proceeds from the sale of the land would go toward mental health services.
Two years ago, the state sold the land for half a million dollars to Aloe Brothers LLC, a Mount Washington-based company. The land was zoned for business and plans for an office park are in place.
Since then, the company has razed some of the old hospital buildings, and had to rip asbestos out of others. Earlier this year they asked the zoning board for a variance - or a special exception - to conduct a strip mining operation on about 30 acres of the land – where a coalmine used to be. On Wednesday night, the zoning board held a public hearing to discuss this option – which was denied.
The Zoning Board didn’t allow audio or video recordings during their meeting.
Thomas Ayoob the Solicitor for the South Fayette Township zoning hearing board, said the zoning board didn’t think the mining was necessary to complete the project and there were also environmental, noise and traffic concerns.
“The zoning hearing board felt that the applicant did not meet the standards for a special exception or for a use variance,” he said.
Speaking before the hearing, Dennis Regan, Managing Partner of with Aloe Brothers, said the mining wasn’t that big of a deal – it would only be a temporary, three-year operation.
“It’s a dirt moving operation, we’re removing the dirt it happens to be coal, you have to go through a process. You have to apply for a permit from the DEP, its not an incidental mining permit, they don’t have those any longer you have to go for a full mining permit," he said.
During the hearing, he said the three-year mining project would include twice-daily blasts, 500-1000 tons of coal removed per day and fifty tri-axle trucks making trips to and from the former Mayview site.
These numbers were not received well by the South Fayette residents in attendance.
John Hintner and is wife Catherine, have lived on Boyce Road for many decades. When Mayview was operating as a state hospital they said there wasn’t much traffic by their home – despite the fact that thousands of people lived there and hundreds worked there. Now, he says it's loud and dangerous with trucks going by
Rocco Bovolimo lives right above the site – he was opposed to the mining because of his proximity to the land, the thought of his home being devaluated, and a fear of land shifting as well as other environmental concerns.
“They bought the property with the understanding of no coal mining, now they see a value in mining it now as a land owners within the area, should we have the burden of something that they took on and now they want to change?” he said.
Aloe Brothers has 30 days to appeal.