The CEMEX application for a comprehensive land use plan amendment to mine for 20 years near Brooksville continues on its path to final approval and we are still working as hard as ever to stop it.
At the February 10th, Hernando County Commission meeting, the agenda included an item under “Correspondence to Note: Agency response letters for CPAM 1102 (CEMEX).” These letters were the state agency responses to the transmittal of the CEMEX application to the state for review. The transmittal was approved at the December 9th commission meeting, with a vote of 4-1 (with Diane Rowden voting NO). Now it is up to the county planning staff to review those comments and then the commission will set a final hearing on the CEMEX mine application, perhaps in April.
Commissioner Diane Rowden began the discussion on the state review letters by stating that it had not taken into consideration the economic impact on Hernando and she renewed her motion for the commission to order an economic impact study that “would provide a critical economic forecast on how this new mine will affect the community, our potential for new economic growth, and what will drive success over the long term in Hernando.”
Commissioner Jim Adkins noted that he had asked County Planner Ron Pianta to contact the Withlacochee Planning Council to see if they could perform such a study. After discussion of the issue, the commission agreed to agenda the item for the next meeting (which will be February 24th). Pianta will ask the planning council if their representative, Mr. Day, can attend that meeting and provide a scope of work, price and timetable for performing the review. The commission is under a deadline and must have a final hearing on the CEMEX application by July 19th or it will be rejected, unless CEMEX agrees to a continuance.
Commissioner Dukes explained that his concern is that there may not be enough time nor funding. Dukes asked Pianta to provide a timeline for the review as well. You will recall that the need for an economic impact study was raised by Diane Rowden at the December hearing, but failed for lack of a second. Now there is even less time to prepare such an important study. But we hope this time it is approved.
Neighbors Against Mining members showed up to voice their support for the study and make other comments. Thanks to Gwen Bassick who spoke to the need to learn more about eco-tourism for future economic growth. Rosemarie Grubba reinforced the need for the economic impact study so that we know the consequences of more mining. Mary Ellen Urban notified the commissioners of blasting that is damaging the home of Tammy and Lloyd Yaworsky, who just moved into a new home near the mines north of this new CEMEX parcel. DeeVon Quirolo thanked the commission for moving forward on the economic impact study and raised three other issues: before the final hearing, we need written details on the new conveyor belt idea proposed to move the lime rock over Fort Dade Road; a written statement as to who will be financial responsible for the reclamation after 20 years of mining; and the county should clarify that it does not intend to “take over the cemetery” as stated by Commissioner Dukes at a prior commission meeting where he then called on CEMEX’s Jim Morris to describe the surveys and future plans they have for the cemetery.
What you can do
• Please show up at the February 24th county commission meeting and speak out. Numbers count.
• Email the county commissioners to let them know how you feel about the economic impact study and this proposal for more mining. Send your comments to: Planning@hernandocounty.us. In the subject line, put CEMEX CPAM 1102 so it goes into the official file. Copy the commissioners or email them directly at: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com If you see the commissioners, encourage them to vote yes on the economic impact study. Thank Diane Rowden for her leadership on this issue.
• Get involved. Neighbors Against Mining is an all volunteer group working to stop this bad deal for Hernando. Help get signatures for our petition or make a tax-deductible donation. We need funds to bring experts to the spring hearing.
For more information, go to http://www.neighborsagainstmining.org, on facebook at Neighbors Against Mining in Hernando County, Fl. or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. Why We Want the Economic Impact Study
Let’s compare this vote on CEMEX to making a financial investment. You don’t buy the first junk bond offered to you without looking at other funds to see what kind of return on your investment to expect and how secure that investment will be.
The economic impact study will provide the commissioners with financial projections on how mining at this location will affect Hernando County. It may compare mining to other options that could bring a far greater economic return to the county than mining. Nature and cultural tourism could be an economic engine for growth that would actually create many long term sustainable jobs over the next 20 years and beyond. And the county is investing in tourism now. But you can’t have it both ways. With the study in hand, the commissioners will be faced with facts and expertise to support a wise decision.
The commissioners must also remember that the burden of proof is on CEMEX to show that it is in our best interests to change our comprehensive land use plan. As it stands now, the land is zoned for commercial and residential which would be a better fit for the surrounding uses. This would not impact adjacent uses in the area—residents, businesses, hospital, historic cemetery, canopy road and biologically rich forest that provides habitat to valuable species—with the long term negative consequences we’d see with mining. Perhaps this is why miners usually oppose seeking out economic impact studies.