On February 3, 2003, the Office of Hearings issued a report finding that a permit to conduct open pit and gravel mining in the Steele Bottom community in Gallatin County was issued in violation of state permitting regulations. The Department of Surface Mining defended the permit issuance in the hearing, but in exceptions to the Hearing Officers Report, did not take exception to the Hearing Officer's findings of fact or conclusions of law. Instead, the Department, through counsel, has recommended that the Cabinet Secretary adopt the Hearing Officer's Report and revoke the permit.
Since the issuance of the mining permits, Gallatin County has adopted planning and zoning. The Steele Bottom community is not zoned for mining, so that if the Secretary accepts the recommendation of the Cabinet and the Hearing Officer, the proposed mining will not be a lawful land use under the local zoning ordinance.
Petitioners Cook and Cooper, and KRC, who represented the Petitioners, appreciate the Cabinet's support for the Hearing Officer's Report and Recommendation. Nugent has not yet filed exceptions but is expected to do so by February 17. Petitioners will respond by February 24, after which time the case will stand submitted for the Cabinet Secretary's decision.