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County to consider limerock amendment today

April 17, 2019
By MELISSA BILL (news@breezenewspapers.com) , Lehigh Acres Citizen

The Lee County Board of County Commissioners is set to hear a controversial amendment to the comprehensive plan regarding limerock mining in southeast Lee County today.

The April 17 session will begin at 9:30 a.m. in Commission Chambers at the Old Courthouse.

Lee County will consider amending the current supply demand requirements included in the comprehensive plan.

"The proposed changes to the Lee County Comprehensive Plan do not decrease protection to the public, to water quality, to water supply or to wildlife, and do not allow for expansion of the area in which mining can occur. The changes maintain the requirement for public input," Lee County said in a summary release issued earlier this month.

"For the last two or more years the county has been working on clearing up the language in the comprehensive plan in regards to how business is done. The action being considered on the 17th will not impact public safety, water quality, the environment or how traffic elements will be reviewed and evaluated. All the same safe guards for the consideration of a limerock mining will still exist," said Betsy Clayton, Lee County Government Communications director.

The hearing is open to the public and speakers will get three minutes to talk before the board.

The matter has been controversial because critics say the amendment will remove the current rules in place for new mines, which are based on clear necessity.

"Every seven years the county does a limerock supply and demand study. If the supply is greater than demand, new mines are not needed," said Greg Stuart from Stuart and Associates.

"I am not representing my client Sakata Seed America during this hearing. I'm working for myself, because it's not right for a professional plan use. Plus they have held no public workshops to get the public's input," Stuart said.

Sakata Seed is one of the Lehigh Acres businesses opposed to the amendment and the proposed Troyer Brothers mine off State Road 82.

"Our business has been here since 1993. We are right in ground zero, surrounded by mines and mining businesses. We have a potential mining road that will sit 80 feet away from our greenhouse. The debris could potentially shut us down," said Sakata branch manager Randy Johnson.

In response to the concerns voiced by local groups and businesses in regards to the amendment and what it means, Lee County has created a landing page devoted to providing information about the limerock mining issue and proposed changes to the Lee County Comprehensive Plan.

The landing page leegov.com/mining provides an overview, an FAQ and a link to join a county mailing list for future updates.

"We want people to understand that the proposed amendment would not make it easier or more difficult to get a limerock mining operation approved. The Troyer and Old Corkscrew proposed mining hearings are completely independent to the hearing on the 17th," said Clayton.

There are some who support the amendment to the comprehensive plan.

"Limerock is place-based resource. It is only found where God put it. It's not artificially made. The supply for the market is what makes sense and letting the market dictate how much limerock is mined and for how long," explained Tina Matte from Gravina, Smith, Matte & Arnold Public Relations, a consultant for Troyer Brothers.

"People opposed to mining in general probably don't think about it in this way. Limerock is all around us no matter where you are, in church, at work, in school or on the road. If we don't allow it to be derived from here, they will still have to pay almost double to get it trucked in from somewhere else," said Matte.

"Even without Map 14, there are strenuous requirements listed in Chapiter 12. A high bar is set for limerock mines to get cleared by the county government. It's a long and tedious process," continued Matte.

The Commission Chambers at the Old Courthouse, are at 2120 Main St., Fort Myers.

 
 

 

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