The decision clarifies that for all future permitting decisions on whether a public road must be permitted (which would require waivers from each resident within 300-feet of the road), the agency must consider the coal-related use and impacts on the road rather then focusing solely on the amount of public use.
The administrative case involved the use by Nally and Hamilton Coal Company of the Colliers Creek Road, a narrow residential road serving the Partridge community. Rebecca Boggs, a resident of Partridge living on the Colliers Creek Road, requested that the use of the road be stopped unless it was brought under a mining permit. The state Cabinet refused to take action based on a "public road" exemption that was struck down by a federal judge in 1985 as being inconsistent with the mining law because it focused on the amount of public use instead of coal use in deciding whether a road had to be permitted. The federal Office of Surface Mining, which has failed to make Kentucky change their regulation, took no action.
The Secretary's Order adopted the 32-page Report and Recommendation of the Hearing Officer, and is available from KRC by sending a return email with a mailing address. The case now returns to the Cabinet for a new determination on whether the road in question should be permitted.