Jackson Township officials intend to hold a public hearing in April over a limestone mining operation scheduled to start in the summer, with or without the presence of mining company representatives.

Jackson Township officials intend to hold a public hearing in April over a limestone mining operation scheduled to start in the summer, with or without the presence of mining company representatives.

Olen Mining Corp. intends to start draining a pond and removing groundwater in more than 1,000 acres between U.S. Route 23 and the Scioto River in late summer. The water will be removed to expose underground limestone. The operation is limited to a depth of 70 feet and is expected to last until 2050.

The operation will be in the city of Columbus and could affect Jackson Township water wells, said James Harris, an attorney representing the mining company, and Herbert Eagon, president of engineering company Eagon and Associates Inc.

They attended a township trustees meeting Tuesday, March 17, to present information about the future operation.

Harris said when the mining operation ends, the area would be turned into an above-ground reservoir.

"I'm sure the residents want to know how they are going to be affected by these operations," Harris said. "We wanted to come here and tell you about this so that nobody suddenly finds that their well is affected and doesn't know what to do about it."

Harris said no damage will be done without full remedy.

"We are required to do it by law," he said.

Eagon said the wells of about 100 Jackson Township residents might be affected by the removal of underground water.

"I'd like to have a public meeting to let (residents) know that you're willing to take on their problems," said township trustee David Burris.

Harris said a letter will be sent to the residents, making a public hearing meaningless.

"If you're not willing to sit in front of a bunch of people and answer questions, then you've got something to hide," Burris said.

"That's what we're here doing this evening," Harris responded.

Burris said Olen Mining gave only a three-day notice of their intent to attend the meeting.

Typical public hearings require a 30-day notice period.

"Why do you not want to be honest up front?" Burris asked.

"There's nothing dishonest about what we're doing," Harris said. "We are here now. There's nothing better that can be done."

Trustee Steve Bowshier suggested holding a meeting without the mining operation representatives. If specific questions are raised, they can be forwarded to mining company officials.

Resident Mike Wine of Geyerwood Court said he questioned the credibility of the list of residents whose wells have a likelihood of being affected.

"I'm in the township and I have a well," Wine said. "My name was not on that list."

Wine's friends and neighbors also have wells and are not on the list. He said the list is incorrect.

"I don't think it does any of us any good to sit here and stonewall each other," Wine said. "We want (Olen) to be successful, because you're our neighbors, too."

Mining company officials sent a letter to residents Wednesday, March 18, said Jackson Township administrator Mike Lilly.

ebrooks@thisweeknews.com