Hoffman Mining Co. v. Zoning Hearing Bd., 958 A.2d 602 (Pa. Commw. Ct. 2009), aff’d Hoffman Mining Co., Inc. v. Zoning Hearing Bd. Of Adams Twp., 32 A.3d 587 (Pa. 2011).
Municipality not preempted by the Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act from having setback requirements in the zoning ordinance for surface coal mining.
Hoffman Mining Company, Inc.’s application for a variance to conduct surface coal mining within 300 feet of residences was denied because the Township’s zoning ordinance required a 1,000-foot setback for mining operations from residences. Hoffman argued that the zoning ordinance was preempted by the Surface Mining Conservation and Reclamation Act. The Commonwealth Court determined, though, that the Act did not preempt the zoning ordinance because the legislature specifically excluded ordinances passed under the Municipalities Planning Code from preemption. Moreover, the Commonwealth Court reasoned “[i]f a municipality can create a use zone excluding surface mining altogether, then it must surely be able to impose the lesser burden of requiring setbacks for such use in zones in which it is permitted.” Accordingly, the zoning ordinance was determined to be valid.
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