"We like it up here, it's remote enough but close enough to the cities where we can get to things," said Pamela James.
But the location of their new home has made it a little more difficult for them to borrow money to help pay for it. The Jameses were denied a construction loan, and they were told it was because their property is in close proximity to the proposed Wishbone Hill Coal Mine.
They are not the only ones to be denied. One of their neighbors was denied by Wells Fargo. In an email dated Feb. 24, the Home Mortgage Consultant stated "I was able to confirm that the property will not be eligible for financing with Wells Fargo due to the coal mine and it's proximity."
Another potential property owner was denied a loan through Matanuska Valley Federal Credit Union because the cabin they were interested in was considered too close to the potential development.
"I understand the emotions on all sides of this thing," said Al Strawn the CEO of Matanuska Valley Federal Credit Union. Strawn said that loan managers initially pinpointed the coal mine site, drew a one-mile radius and decided to not grant loans for properties within that area. Strawn said they have since changed their policy.
"This has been an evolving policy but today we are open for business to anybody that lives up in that area, for any of the properties, we are going to look at each of them on a case by case basis," Strawn said. "If it's very very close to the proposed development then we may have to discount the collateral value somewhat, but we're not going to just have a 'no loan' area," he added.
Usibelli Coal Mine, Inc. is the company trying to pursue the Wishbone Hill project. Usibelli's spokesperson, Lorali Carter, said the company is in the middle of a feasibility study that is expected to wrap up by this summer. Until that study is complete, Carter said the company will not make a decision of whether it plans to move forward with the proposed project.
Meanwhile, the James family will approach other potential lenders to help finish construction of their new home. But that doesn't keep Pamela James from being concerned over the impact a potential coal mind is already having on her neighborhood.
"It's turning out that it is affecting property values and buying and selling in the area," said Pamela. "So we're not necessarily against the mine, just the things that are coming with it."