By Paige Hagan
March 8, 2019 - In Indiana, the Warrick County city of Boonville has scaled back restrictions on coal mining near the city’s homes.
The two-year-old ordinance was what got in the way of an expansion of Liberty Mine in Boonville, which was supposed to happen three-years ago. The expansion didn’t happen because the mine would have expanded to within 3-miles of city limits, which is in violation of city ordinance.
Back in November the city of Boonville and Alcoa, which owns Liberty Mine, came to an agreement to repeal the ordinance. Mayor Charlie Wyatt said Alcoa will not be allowed to expand the mine into that 3-mile radius.
It ensures that there will be a 1,000 foot blasting buffer between the mines outer limits and home within city limits.
“They’re (Alcoa) tough to barging with,” Mayor Wyatt said. “They know what they’re doing and I think we do to. This has been a good agreement for everybody and I think Alcoa is too.”
Residents like Mark Phillis were concerned that mine blasting would be happening to close to homes and thus putting families at risk. So he help for the group Save Our Homes, LLC, which consists of over 90 homeowners in Boonville.
“Nationally, municipalities typically haven’t stood up for homeowners in trying to protect their ability to live in their homes,” Phillis said.
“Had you (Wyatt) not been willing to fight for people that have not only invested interest in this city’s continued development,” Phillis continued, “giving the city’s expansion westward that’s been annexed, I don’t think we would have been able to fight and secure that agreement that was reached.”
Alcoa released this statement once the deal was reached:
“Alcoa Warrick Operations is pleased that all obstacles have been cleared related to the Liberty Mine, providing future options for the integrated aluminum operation.”
The city and local tax payers spent about $400,000 in legal fees throughout the three-year long conflict. Phillis said under the agreement residents will be getting most of that money back.