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Troyer Brothers ready to move to next level

Opposition to the proposed mining operation continues

September 4, 2019
By MELISSA BILL ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

On Wednesday, Aug. 21, Lee County Commissioners voted in favor to adopt the proposed rezoning of the Troyer Brothers property along State Road 82 to permit a mining operation, and the adoption of the proposed amendments to the Lee County Comprehensive Land Use Plan.

Troyer Brothers is ready to move forward.

"After three and a half years of thorough review and analysis by Lee County of project applications and expert studies for the Troyer Brothers Mine, we welcome the opportunity to move into the next level of rigorous federal, state, and local review of the proposed limerock mine," said Tina Matte, a spokesperson for the Troyer Brothers Mine. "This is a multi-year process by a variety of regulatory agencies that requires compliance with strict standards for every aspect of mining operations and environmental considerations."

The proposed Troyer Brothers limerock mining operation has caused quite a stir within the community, especially with residents and businesses that will sit in close proximity to the limerock mine blasting and an increase in dump trucks carrying loads out of the quarry.

Members of the public were allowed a chance to speak during various times throughout the rezoning request process, which began in 2017. The adoption hearing was the public's final opportunity to comment on the amendments and rezoning request.

Neighboring residents and businesses including Randy Johnson, Branch Manager/Plant Pathologist at Sakata Seed America, left the hearing disappointed.

"It's was like they refused to react to anything we said. This was a done deal. They did not address our concerns in regards to what this would do to our business. This mine is now going to be 35 feet away from our property line. They got a variance to get closer than the normal distance from a property, which is usually 50 feet," Johnson said. "They also ignored some of the county hearing examiners' remarks and conditions as well."

Johnson's main concerns are the effect the dust and silica could have on their greenhouses.

"This business has been in the same spot for 25 years, and they can't just pick up and leave," Johnson said. "We have people in these greenhouses who are actually doing hand pollination. We're also worried about the dust collecting on our roofs, which will reduce light transmission into the greenhouses, and dust on our crops in the field."

While many voiced their opposition, those in support of Troyer Brother's cited positive aspects to come from the mine site including: high-quality lime-rock used in foundations for such projects as churches, schools, offices, and homes; a reduction in water use and the eventual creation of conservation land.

An additional need for more limerock supply was one of the reasons given when commissioners considered approving Troyer's rezoning request.

The county currently looks to the Waldrop Study to justify whether a demand exists for more limerock.

"With The Waldrop Study, they were taking into consideration the demand coming from the various other counties. On the supply side, they left out quite a few active mines," Johnson said.

The mines in question included four Collier County mines that yield an additional 78.1 million cubic yards of lime rock, and five Charlotte County mines that yield an additional 31.5 million cubic yards.

In 2018, Sakata hired Stuart and Associates, a land use planning, design and development consulting practice in Fort Myers and Seattle, to do an independent supply/demand study.

According to Johnson, Sakata Seed is now exploring its legal options.



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