Board gives approval to Dovertown mining proposal

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Subhead: Residents respond with boycott

The Cordova Economic and Industrial Development Authority (CEIDA) voted 4-2 to allow a proposed strip mining project in Dovertown to move forward during a called special meeting Thursday night.

Chairman Mike Gilbert and board members Danny Dawkins, Cynthia Rutledge and David Vance voted to ratify the board’s consent to the assignment of a coal mining lease dated Feb. 1, 2008, from Centennial Natural Resources, LLC to Mays Mining, Inc.

Board members Jim Madison and Tina Woods voted against the motion. 

The CEIDA, which owns the mineral rights to property recently purchased by J and JA Properties LLC , will receive 8 percent of the royalties if coal is extracted from the site.

The Dovertown property has been considered for strip mining operations twice since 2005. Both of the previous projects stalled before mining began.

Thursday’s vote seemingly solidified an action already taken by the board last month via a text vote.

Gilbert said at the board’s regular meeting on July 2 that he met with representatives of Centennial about the process of transferring mining rights from Centennial and its affiliate, Reed Minerals Inc., and reassigning Alabama Surface Mining Commission (ASMC), Alabama Department of Environmental Management and U.S. Army Corps of Engineer permits to Mays Mining.

After being advised by board attorney Charles Stephens that such an action would require a majority vote of the board, Gilbert said he took a vote of the board via text message and received five yes votes.

The transfer was signed on June 25, according to Gilbert.

According to documents available on the ASMC website, the permit transfer from Centennial to Mays Mining was approved and became effective June 29. 

The permit would be valid for five years and covers 178 acres that have not previously been mined, according to the permit application. 

No vote on the lease or transfer of mining rights and permits was taken at the July 2 meeting, and the announcement of the text vote raised questions regarding the state’s Open Meetings Act. 

Section 36-25A-5 of the Code of Alabama, which lists the rules of parliamentary procedure and voting, states that "all votes on matters before a governmental body ... shall be made during the open or public portion of a meeting for which notice has been provided pursuant to this chapter."

Gilbert said in a written statement to the Daily Mountain Eagle that he called Thursday’s meeting after consulting with the board’s attorney, Charles Stephens, “to ratify the agreement for the assignment of the coal mining lease dated Feb. 1, 2008 from Centennial Natural Resources LLC to Mays Mining Inc. to make sure all necessary approvals are in place.”

Prior to Thursday’s vote, Dovertown residents began circulating a petition to boycott all Cordova businesses “until this activity is stopped and measures put in place to assure us that our communities will not be destroyed due to exploitation by our local government, and its boards.”

The petition recounts previous surface mining threats that have been “perpetuated and promoted by the city of Cordova and the Cordova Industrial Development Board.”

Dovertown resident Gaytha Hosmer said 100 people had signed the petition by Thursday afternoon.

“We have people outside of Dovertown who are very much against this who were born and raised here and now live in Jasper or around the beach. We have people in Huntsville, all over the place who are against this 100 percent. They come in and buy party supplies or picnic supplies. Now I guess they’ll be purchased at Walmart. We’re not going to support any of these businesses,” Hosmer said.