Section 9-16-88

Permits - Review and appeal of applications.

(a) At the time of submission of an application for a surface coal mining and reclamation permit, or revision of an existing permit, pursuant to the provisions of this article, the applicant shall submit to the regulatory authority a copy of his advertisement of the ownership, precise location, and boundaries of the land to be affected. At the time of submission such advertisement shall be placed by the applicant in a local newspaper of general circulation in the locality of the proposed surface mine at least once a week for four consecutive weeks. The regulatory authority shall notify various local governmental bodies, planning agencies, and sewage and water treatment authorities or water companies in the locality in which the proposed surface mining will take place, notifying them of the operator's intention to surface mine a particularly described tract of land and indicating the application's permit number and where a copy of the proposed mining and reclamation plan may be inspected. These local bodies, agencies, authorities or companies may submit written comments within a reasonable period established by the regulatory authority on the mining applications with respect to the effect of the proposed operation on the environment which are within their area of responsibility. Such comments shall immediately be transmitted to the applicant by the regulatory authority and shall be made available to the public at the same locations as are the mining applications.

(b) Any person having an interest which is or may be adversely affected or the officer or head of any federal, state or local governmental agency or authority shall have the right to file written objections to the proposed initial or revised application for a permit for surface coal mining and reclamation operation with the regulatory authority within 30 days after the last publication of the above notice. Such objections shall immediately be transmitted to the applicant by the regulatory authority and shall be made available to the public. If written objections are filed and an informal conference requested, the regulatory authority shall then hold an informal conference in the locality of the proposed mining if requested within a reasonable time of the receipt of such objections or request. The date, time and location of such informal conference shall be advertised by the regulatory authority in a newspaper of general circulation in the locality at least two weeks prior to the scheduled conference date. The regulatory authority may arrange with the applicant upon request by any party to the administrative proceeding access to the proposed mining area for the purpose of gathering information relevant to the proceeding. An electronic or stenographic record shall be made of the conference proceeding unless waived by all parties. Such record shall be maintained and shall be accessible to the parties until final release of the applicant's performance bond. In the event all parties requesting an informal conference stipulate agreement prior to the requested informal conference and withdraw their request, such informal conference need not be held.

(c) If an informal conference has been held pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, the regulatory authority shall issue and furnish the applicant for a permit and persons who are parties to the administrative proceedings with the written finding of the regulatory authority granting or denying the permit in whole or in part and stating the reasons therefor within the 30 days of said hearings.

(d) If there has been no informal conference held pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, the regulatory authority shall notify the applicant for a permit within a reasonable time as determined by the regulatory authority and set forth in regulations, taking into account the time needed for proper investigation of the site, the complexity of the permit application, and whether or not written objection to the application has been filed, whether the application has been approved or disapproved in whole or in part.

(e) If the application is approved, the permit shall be issued. If the application is disapproved, specific reasons therefor must be set forth in the notification. Within 30 days after the applicant is notified of the final decision of the regulatory authority on the permit application, the applicant or any person with an interest which is or may be adversely affected may request a hearing before a hearing officer on the final decision of the regulatory authority. The hearing officer shall hold a hearing within 30 days of such request and provide notification to all interested parties at the time that the applicant is so notified. Such hearing shall be conducted pursuant to Sections 9-16-78 and 9-16-79, and a decision shall be rendered within 15 days after the hearing.

(f) Where a hearing is requested pursuant to subsection (e) of this section, the hearing officer may, under such conditions as he may prescribe, grant such temporary relief as he deems appropriate pending final determination of the proceedings if:

(1) All parties to the proceedings have been notified and given an opportunity to be heard on a request for temporary relief;

(2) The person requesting such relief shows that there is a substantial likelihood that he will prevail on the merits of the final determination of the proceeding; and

(3) Such relief will not adversely affect the public health or safety or cause significant imminent environmental harm to land, air, or water resources.

(Acts 1981, No. 81-435, p. 682, §20; Acts 1986, No. 86-106, p. 113, §3.)