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Lee reschedules public hearing on mining amendment

February 27, 2019
By MELISSA BILL (news@breezenewspapers.com) , Lehigh Acres Citizen

A public hearing set for Feb. 20 on Lee Plan amendments in reference to limerock mining has been rescheduled by the Board of County Commissioners.

The hearing was to review the county's Mining Comp Plan Amendment and consider a proposal to streamline the approval process for new mines by eliminating the requirement of a needs analysis before new mines are approved.

A memo from Lee County Community Development stated that public comments and media reports following Local Planning Agency hearings indicated confusion regarding the proposed companion LDC amendments. In response, the county decided to reschedule the transmittal hearing until after the LDC amendments are reviewed by committees in late March.

According to those against the proposed amendment, the rescheduling of the public hearing is a tactic to undermine public input.

"My two cents is that the public hearing was delayed due to a lack of votes. They need three board votes to get this special-interest amendment passed," said Greg Stuart from Stuart and Associates.

Stuart, along with other local businesses and community members, formed the No Mine on 82 initiative in response to the proposed Troyer Brother mine.

"I hope the county actually sees the light and keeps this process democratic by holding public workshops. This amendment is just one example of an anti-democratic government. People should be very alarmed at what's going on in Lee County government," Stuart said. "I was the county's expert planner for almost a decade. My testimony has been accepted in Lee County and Collier County, as well as other parts of the US. Presently I represent Sekata Seed, but I also have a professional interest and believe in a transparent government."

According to those against the proposed amendment, the Lee Plan would allow for more lime rock mining in the county, which they say could threaten the water supply and environment; put more trucks on busy roadways such as SR 82 and affect water quality.

"This type of disruption to natural aquifers and the environment can be very bad for the general public but great if you're mining company," said Stuart.

Stuart also mentioned the timeliness of this issue when Southwest Florida is still recovering from a slump in tourism due to water quality issues from Lake Okeechobee releases.

"It's funny how the county made a big issue about the state allowing the run-off from Lake Okeechobee to ruin our water estuary and hurt the tourism economy, but they are all for polluting the local head waters. The main head water, Flint Pen Strand, ties into all the local water estuaries and that's where these mines will be situated," said Stuart.

"In addition to streamlining future mining projects, this proposal will facilitate two new mining projects currently pending with the county; Troyer Mines or Old Corkscrew Plantation," said Stuart. "Old Corkscrew Plantation Mine encompasses 4,204 acres with 1,727 acres of mine pits. Troyer Brothers is 1,732 total acres with 682 acres mine pits."

Critics say that while the current Lee Plan is not perfect, it was carefully drafted as a thoughtful compromise to balance conflicting land uses.

In addition, a report commissioned by Estero Village Council reviewed analyses of future limerock demand and supply. The Waldrop study (commissioned by the County in 2016), does not support its conclusion that more mines will be needed in Lee County to meet regional demand through 2040.

Troyer Brothers, which cites a record of environmental responsibility, has disputed much of the criticisms and has pointed to job creation.

Interested residents can either attend the Lee County Commission Board meeting or email the commissioners.

Email addresses:

- John Manning: dist1@leegov.com

- Cecil Pendergrass: dist2@leegov.com

- Larry Kiker: dist3@leegov.com

- Brian Hamman: dist4@leegov.com

- Frank Mann: dist5@leegov.com

 
 

 

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