Buckingham Planning Commission postpones mining work

Published 8:41 am Wednesday, August 30, 2023

The Buckingham Planning Commission won’t have a recommendation about metallic mining, at least not in the short-term. Back on Monday, Aug. 14, Buckingham Planner Cheryl Edmondson told supervisors that she hoped “to have a formal recommendation after the meeting on the 28th.”

Well, the Aug. 28 meeting of the planning commission came and went with a very different result. Instead of a recommendation for Buckingham supervisors, Commission Chairman John Bickford said work on a mining ordinance would be postponed. He wants to wait until the commission starts tackling that part of the comprehensive plan late this year and early in 2024. 

Others didn’t see why they needed to delay. 

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“I don’t know why we’re waiting,” Planning Commission member Peter Kapuscinski. “Quite frankly, I think we need to talk about the zoning. I think we need to talk about what it is, If there’s anything we need to do to make the process more transparent. I think waiting for the state to come up with a solution that will solve our problem in Buckingham, I believe that is a dream that will not occur.” 

Earlier this year, Buckingham supervisors assigned the commission to review metallic mining, the county’s definition of it and recommend a path forward, in terms of any changes needed for local rules and regulations. To help with that, the commission wanted to hear from state agencies, and possibly convince the General Assembly to separate metal mining from non-metal mining. 

So far, no Assembly member has been willing to have that discussion, about putting a metallic mining ban in place across Virginia. 

“It’ll never happen,” Kapuscinski said. “It’s my opinion that will never happen.”

Where is mining allowed? 

Currently in Buckingham County, mining is allowed in two districts. In Buckingham’s zoning, manufacturing districts are labeled as M-1 or M-2. In the M-1 districts, commercial core drilling is allowed by right. That means a company can drill without requesting a special use permit. Mining of any type is also allowed in the M-1 district by permit, which means the company comes before the Buckingham planning commission and supervisors and makes the request. In the M-2 district, mining is just allowed, with no permit needed.

Buckingham has two areas right now where that’s in effect. One is on Route 15 and the surrounding area near Dillwyn, where the Kyanite Mining Corporation is working. The second is also on Route 15, just off Bridgeport Road in the Slate Quarry area. There is no metallic mining happening in either area.

What’s next for Buckingham Planning Commission? 

This summer, Buckingham County Attorney E.M. Wright told the commission he saw four options for them. They could recommend a mining ban. They could just ban metallic mining. They could adjust current ordinance or do nothing at all. The group decided to basically take option four at the time, with any changes coming during the update to the county’s comprehensive plan, which determines what is allowed in each zoning district.

“For right now, we’re just gonna continue with the comprehensive plan,” Bickford said. “In the interim, we’re just gonna work on the comprehensive plan until we get to that phase and we’ll have to work on it then.”