§ 74-51. Permits - Application, granting, conditions.
(a) Any operator desiring to engage in mining shall make written application to the Department for a permit. The application shall be upon a form furnished by the Department and shall fully state the information called for; in addition, the applicant may be required to furnish any other information as may be deemed necessary by the Department in order adequately to enforce this Article. The application shall be accompanied by a reclamation plan that meets the requirements of G.S. 74-53. No permit shall be issued until a reclamation plan has been approved by the Department. The application shall be accompanied by a signed agreement, in a form specified by the Department, that in the event a bond forfeiture is ordered pursuant to G.S. 74-59, the Department and its representatives and contractors shall have the right to make whatever entries on the land and to take whatever actions may be necessary in order to carry out reclamation that the operator has failed to complete.
(b) Before deciding whether to grant a new permit, the Department shall circulate copies of a notice of application for review and comment as it deems advisable. The Department shall grant or deny the permit requested as expeditiously as possible, but in no event later than 60 days after the application form and any relevant and material supplemental information reasonably required shall have been filed with the Department, or if a public hearing is held, within 30 days following the hearing and the filing of any relevant and material supplemental information reasonably required by the Department. Priority consideration shall be given to applicants who submit evidence that the mining proposed will be for the purpose of supplying materials to the Board of Transportation.
(c) If the Department determines, based on public comment relevant to the provisions of this Article, that significant public interest exists, the Department shall conduct a public hearing on any application for a new mining permit or for a modification of a mining permit to add land to the permitted area, as defined in G.S. 74-50(b). The hearing shall be held before the Department reaches a final decision on the application, and in making its determination, the Department shall give full consideration to all comments submitted at the public hearing. The public hearing shall be held within 60 days of the end of the 30-day period within which any requests for the public hearing shall be made. A public hearing shall not be required for a modification of a mining permit to extend the duration of the permit to a life-of-site, or life-of-lease, pursuant to G.S. 74-50(d) or (d1), respectively.
(d) The Department may deny the permit upon finding:
(1) That any requirement of this Article or any rule promulgated hereunder will be violated by the proposed operation;
(2) That the operation will have unduly adverse effects on potable groundwater supplies, wildlife, or fresh water, estuarine, or marine fisheries;
(3) That the operation will violate standards of air quality, surface water quality, or groundwater quality that have been promulgated by the Department;
(4) That the operation will constitute a direct and substantial physical hazard to public health and safety or to a neighboring dwelling house, school, church, hospital, commercial or industrial building, public road or other public property, excluding matters relating to use of a public road;
(5) That the operation will have a significantly adverse effect on the purposes of a publicly owned park, forest or recreation area;
(6) That previous experience with similar operations indicates a substantial possibility that the operation will result in substantial deposits of sediment in stream beds or lakes, landslides, or acid water pollution; or
(7) That the applicant or any parent, subsidiary, or other affiliate of the applicant or parent has not been in substantial compliance with this Article, rules adopted under this Article, or other laws or rules of this State for the protection of the environment or has not corrected all violations that the applicant or any parent, subsidiary, or other affiliate of the applicant or parent may have committed under this Article or rules adopted under this Article and that resulted in:
a. Revocation of a permit,
b. Forfeiture of part or all of a bond or other security,
c. Conviction of a misdemeanor under G.S. 74-64,
d. Any other court order issued under G.S. 74-64, or
e. Final assessment of a civil penalty under G.S. 74-64, [or]
f. Failure to pay the application processing fee required under G.S. 74-54.1.
(e) In the absence of any finding set out in subsection (d) of this section, or if adverse effects are mitigated by the applicant as determined necessary by the Department, a permit shall be granted.
(f) Any permit issued shall be expressly conditioned upon compliance with all requirements of the approved reclamation plan for the operation and with any other reasonable and appropriate requirements and safeguards that the Department determines are necessary to assure that the operation will comply fully with the requirements and objectives of this Article. These conditions may, among others, include a requirement of visual screening, vegetative or otherwise, so as to screen the view of the operation from public highways, public parks, or residential areas, where the Department finds screening to be feasible and desirable. Violation of any conditions of the permit shall be treated as a violation of this Article and shall constitute a basis for suspension or revocation of the permit.
(g) If the Department denies an application for a permit, the Department shall notify the operator in writing, stating the reasons for the denial and any modifications in the application that would make the application acceptable. The operator may thereupon modify and resubmit the application, or file an appeal as provided in G.S. 74-61.
(h) Upon approval of an application, the Department shall set the amount of the performance bond or other security that is to be required pursuant to G.S. 74-54. The operator shall have 60 days after the Department mails a notice of the required bond to the operator in which to deposit the required bond or security with the Department. The operating permit shall not be issued until receipt of this deposit.
(i) When one operator succeeds to the interest of another in any uncompleted mining operation by virtue of a sale, lease, assignment, or otherwise, the Department may release the first operator from the duties imposed upon the operator by this Article with reference to the mining operation and transfer the permit to the successor operator; provided, that both operators have complied with the requirements of this Article and that the successor operator assumes the duties of the first operator with reference to reclamation of the land and posts a suitable bond or other security. (1971, c. 545, s. 6; 1973, c. 507, s. 5; 1977, c. 771, s. 4; c. 845, s. 2; 1981, c. 787, ss. 2, 3; 1987, c. 827, c. 82; 1989, c. 727, s. 11; 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 568, s. 3; 2000-116, s. 2; 2017-209, s. 13(b).)