The Kane County Planning and Zoning Commission who from now on will be know as the Kane County Land Use Authority, met on May 13 to conduct business.

One of the most discussed items on the agenda; Applications for Conditional use permits were submitted in the name of Sink Valley Ranch-c/o C. Burton Pugh and Richard L. Dame to allow surface coal mining and reclamation activities and all support activities including coal sizing, stockpiling etc. Property and location: five parcels in Sections 19, 20, 29, 30 Township 39 South Range 5 West (Alton area). Approximately Four Hundred and Sixty two (462) acres will be for this use. Current zoning: Agricultural and current use of land: Grazing.

     Surface mining is a type of mining in which soil and rock overlying the mineral deposit is removed. It is the opposite of underground mining, in which the overlying rock is left in place, and the mineral removed through shafts or tunnels.

Alton Coal Development, LLC is the agent for the property owners. Manager Chris McCourt was present to explain the details of the plan. He stated the operation would start on the private land area then eventually proceed on to   federal land. They are working on getting coal leases adjacent to the area. McCourt stated it would be a thirty-year mining operation, producing two million tons (2,000,000) per year. Some building facilities would be needed, probably on the Sink Valley Ranch that would include some coal sizing and a coal stockpile to load the trucks to take the coal to market. Coal contracts will determine some of the operations.    

The primary environmental regulatory authority for coal mining in the State of Utah is the Division of Oil, gas and Mining (DOGM), it regulates the coal industry under the Federal Surface Mine Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA).

    Panel member Terril Honey asked to see a site plan in relationship to the town of Alton. Manager McCourt presented a map pointing out the proposed coalmine site. It would be located in the Alton coalfield approximately three (3) miles south of Alton. McCourt said agreements have been made with the Kane County Road Department and BLM to temporally relocate and improve the county road. The Alton Coal Development will fund it. The travel plan is to by-pass the town of Alton to Highway 89, north to US 20, east to I-15, south on I-15 to Cedar City, and west to a proposed rail load out site.

     Panel member Tom Forsythe questioned the hours of operations and the possibility of traveling through the town of Alton if road agreements are not finalized. McCourt stated that is a difficult question to answer at this time, Alton Coal Development has made a verbal agreement with the town of Alton to find a way around the town, but their hands are tied until final agreements are made with all parties concerned.

     Commissioner Hulet stated the Commissioners concern is on the county level and the BLM reclamations regulations on surface mining, with a certain amount of mining done at one time without returning the previously used acreage to its natural state. McCourt stated it is a matter of distance, you can only advance two hundred (200) feet without “back giving”, ACD is only disturbing sixty (60) or seventy (70) acres at a time, they are reclaiming the land as they go, there is no difference of actions between private and federal land. He stated Alton Coal Development has posted a bond with the state to be in compliance with all regulations.

     Chairman Baker asked who is responsible for maintaining the roads? Both Commissioner Hulet and Terril Honey commented on the economic benefit from the Alton Coal operation, stating it will far exceed the cost of county road maintenance.

Tom Forsythe asked what are the revenues/benefits to Kane County? Commissioner Hulet replied: becoming a producing county again, state royalties, jobs, tax revenue, increased value of improvements made on the property, assessed property taxes and fuel sales tax. Hulet admitted the sales tax would most likely be split between Kane, Garfield and Iron Counties.  

     McCourt hoped to begin operations in 2009 but it depends on the permitting processes. Terril Honey asked if it was necessary to obtain approval   from UDOT to access Highway 89 by a turn out lane. McCourt replied it was not a requirement at this time.

The Land Use Authority panel posed more questions and got enough satisfactory answers to approve the Conditional Use Permit Application.

Administrator Gary Smith stated all the paperwork is in order. Chairman Baker verified that the counties interests have been satisfied.

Member Tom Forsythe voiced a concern about transportation and limiting the time of the day the trucks could travel the road and the amount of trucks on the road at any one time.

Chairman Baker asked for the panel’s vote. The panel consists of seven (7) members. Chairman Baker’s vote would be cast only if there was a tie. Five (5) members voted in favor. Member Tom Forsythe voted against the application request.

     Other Administrative items: Conditional Use Permit Application for Randy Little doing business as Randy’s Auto Body Repair. Approval deferred until the next meeting. A Conditional Use Permit was approved for Russ Truman to live in a trailer while building his house in Vermillion Cliff Estates.

          Final Plat – Elk Ridge Estates Unit IV, Phase 2 after meeting all engineering and county requirements was approved for twenty (20) lots with a minimum lot size 1.03 acres, overall density 3.16 acres, total acreage 63 + acres. To be forwarded to the County Commissioners for final approval.

     Chapter 8 of the Rural, Mountain and Desert Subdivision Ordinance was approved.

    Land Use Authority Administrator Gary Smith stated the next project is to review the Kane County Land Use Ordinances and asked the panel to allow extra time at the next meeting to accomplish that goal.