Friday, Dec 6, 2013
Cottage Grove Strip Mine Expansion Plan Worries Neighbors
SALINE CO. -- A Saline County community is speaking out against a nearby mine's plans to expand closer to their homes.
Many who live near the Cottage Grove Coal Mine spoke out at Thursday night's Saline County board meeting.
Peabody Energy has introduced a plan to move Rocky Branch Rd. and close several others so the company can strip mine 800 more acres of land. Neighbors turned in a petition against the plan during the board meeting.
The additional mining is not expected to create any new jobs, nor would it involve any county owned coal. However, it will require four road closures in a rural community already surrounded by coal.
The once quiet farming community has learned to live with the noise of a nearby mine in the last few decades.
"When they set off those charges it's like small earthquakes," said Judy Kellen, a Cottage Township trustee.
But a proposal to expand Peabody Energy's Cottage Grove Mine is too close for comfort for some.
Stephen Karns says it's not about the mining, it's about road access. Many people who live in the area are retired.
"When you get that age there are a lot of health issues and if we can't get an ambulance out here or you can't get a fire truck when minutes count, where are we then?" he asked.
Karns recalls a few years ago when Peabody closed direct access to the Cottage Grove cemetery, turning a two mile trip to visit lost loved ones into five.
"The township allowed the road to be closed, it's a quarter mile stretch, for a period of three years," he said,"Peabody came back, wanted to close it for an additional 3 years, and then informed us a couple weeks ago that they want the closure to be permanent."
Karns was joined by a handful of other concerned citizens at the board meeting who voiced their concerns about the plan.
"They're going to jar our houses apart. They're going to tear up our water system," insisted Kellen.
Peabody released the following statement:
"Cottage Grove has 200 employees, and we are your neighbors. We are equally concerned with ensuring this is a thriving and safe community. In fact, our greatest priority is the safety of those who live and work here. We believe the current road closure plan offers the safest solution, while minimizing any inconvenience to residents. We pride ourselves on good neighbor practices, and we will continue our dilligence in this area -- all while creating jobs and growth in Saline County."
Residents respectfully disagree and hope for a better compromise.
"We understand the mine brings jobs and people need jobs, we just think there's a more responsible way of handling the situation," added Karns.
Peabody says the project would be active from 2014-2018. No word on exactly when the Saline County Board will vote on the matter.
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