Our aim is to support local authority to protect against gold mining.
On September 26, at the State Agency Committee (SAC) – state gold mining study meeting, Joe Lerch, the director of local government policy for the Virginia Association of Counties (VACO) said that localities can choose to adopt an ordinance to ban gold mining, or restrict its location within the county. He also said localities can choose to ban exploratory mining work.
Please see the recording here: Virginia Energy Gold Mining Study page. Scroll down to Past Meetings, choose September 26, 2022. Mr. Lerch is right in the beginning and speaks to these issues:
We found the Virginia code that seems to verify what Mr. Lerch said:
15.2-2280. Zoning ordinances generally.
Any locality may, by ordinance, classify the territory under its jurisdiction or any substantial portion thereof into districts of such number, shape and size as it may deem best suited to carry out the purposes of this article, and in each district it may regulate, restrict, permit, prohibit, and determine the following:
1. The use of land, buildings, structures and other premises for agricultural, business, industrial, residential, flood plain and other specific uses;
2. The size, height, area, bulk, location, erection, construction, reconstruction, alteration, repair, maintenance, razing, or removal of structures;
3. The areas and dimensions of land, water, and air space to be occupied by buildings, structures and uses, and of courts, yards, and other open spaces to be left unoccupied by uses and structures, including variations in the sizes of lots based on whether a public or community water supply or sewer system is available and used; or
4. The excavation or mining of soil or other natural resources.
Here in Buckingham, there is popular agreement that we do not want gold mining (all metallic mining) in our county, or the state. We want to stop it at the entry level. The local Special Use Permit is the very first permit required in the process. We assert that localities have the authority to protect against gold/metallic mining - utilizing both the Buckingham proposed rights-based Toxic Trespass Ordinance and a local ban based on zoning and land use code. The toxic trespass ordinance is based on other such rights-based ordinances across the country, and specifically the Halifax ordinance passed in 2008: “Corporate Mining and Chemical and Radioactive Trespass” to protect against uranium mining.
Of note: In the Buckingham Toxic Trespass Ordinance, you will find front line protections beginning on page 6, Section 7.1.1 for “Prove It First” and Section 7.1.2 for Environmental Justice. We will elaborate on these in a separate comment.
Please take this information into account in this study. We speak for the Virginia Community Rights Network (VACRN) and the Friends of Buckingham (FoB).