Florida News Flash.com: Opinion: Stop the new CEMEX mine near Brooksville by DeeVon Quirolo

February 5, 2015

Jan 15, 2015 @ 7:23 AM

CEMEX Construction Materials Florida is seeking to change the comprehensive land use plan for Hernando County on 728 acres fronting Cortez Boulevard (State Road 50) to Fort Dade Avenue on the north from agricultural to mining and commercial.  The property is located across the street from Bayfront Health Hospital.  CEMEX wants to use the property over the next 20 years for open pit industrial lime rock mining that would include blasting and removal of the existing pine forest, grassland, and wetland habitat adjacent to the historic African American Spring Hill Cemetery  and near many residents and businesses.  CEMEX is asking the county to consider this an interim use.

Once the property is scarified, the property owners plan a commercial/residential development along the Cortez Boulevard.  20 years is too long to endure mining as an “interim use” with the hope that something good may come of the site thereafter.  Reclamation is a false hope if we look at all the other sites around Hernando where CEMEX has mined and left the area blighted. The CEMEX South Brooksville plant is an abandoned eyesore and has become a blighted area, just one of several past mining sites in Hernando.

The Hernando County Planning Department declined to recommend adoption of the application.  The Planning Commission voted to down 4 to 1 at their July 14 meeting.  The county commission heard the matter on Dec. 9th and voted to transmit it to the state for review, despite over 35 speakers opposing it.   The matter will come up for a quasi-judicial hearing  before the County Commission in the spring, when a supra-majority vote of 4/5 will be needed to approve the land use plan amendment.

The mining activities will damage adjacent residential properties home to 150 people. Damage may include cracks in homes, sinkholes from the percussion of the blasts and contamination of local fresh water wells.  It will degrade quality of life from the perpetual noise and beeping from equipment that will be heard in the immediate area.  The blasts will be heard in nearby downtown Brooksville, the county seat home to over 7100 residents, over the next 20 years.  It will also damage the historic African American Spring Hill Cemetery located within this parcel of land and disturb visitors to the cemetery.

This project will reduce property values and deter environmentally-sustainable growth that the City of Brooksville and Hernando County desperately needs. Mining is incompatible on Cortez Boulevard, the business corridor leading into the City of Brooksville, with over 50 businesses in the immediate area that hope this business-zoned area will grow.  The plan to create a berm to hide the mining is an ecological abomination.

The community is concerned with exposure to the air pollution and possible interruption of delicate equipment and operations at Bayfront Health Hospital located directly across the street.  CEMEX  proposes a 20-year industrial mine that would excavate the area to 45 feet deep and generate chronic air pollution from silica dust–a known carcinogen.  It is too close to the hospital and historic Brooksville.

This new mine application would allow removal of a large tract of wild forest that is highly rated as a strategic conservation area that is prime wildlife habitat for endangered wood storks, threatened species such as bald eagles, Florida Black Bear, gopher tortoises and other species of special concern.  The northern border along Fort Dade Avenue has been designated a protected canopy road by the County’s Canopy Road Ordinance.  CEMEX proposes to build a conveyor belt over the canopy road to transport the lime rock from the new mine to an existing mine north of that road.  The canopy would be damaged and the view turned from beautiful to industrial.  According to hydrogeologists,  it is located within the Peck Sink Watershed–a fragile karst system vulnerable to groundwater contamination from blasting and excavation that could cause sinkhole activity and compromise fresh water wells of residents in the area

CEMEX was cited by the EPA for mercury and dioxin emissions at its cement plant further north of this site which will receive and process all the lime rock from this new mine if approved.  It is the 5th dirtiest coal plant in Florida according to the NAACP.  Why extend the life of pollution that threatens our health?

There is no driving need for more mining in Hernando. CEMEX has other mining sites in the county and one location that is a future mining site.  The annual county mining report indicated that at one site, mining has ceased to sell off existing stockpiles.  CEMEX has other sites where they can mine.

CEMEX is a foreign corporation that will lease the land for a 20 year, highly extractive purpose without generating one new job, while congesting our roads with heavy trucks, destroying native habitat and discharging dust that fills the air with pollutants.

Nature tourism is a far better way to build a strong economic future but mining will diminish it and reduce the potential of other economic opportunities.  You can’t have it both ways; tourists are not drawn to a mining town.

What you can do:  Submit an email with 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:  wdukes@hernandocounty.us, nnicholson@hernandocounty.us, jadkins@hernandocounty.us, dianerowden@hernandocounty.us, jholcomb@hernandocounty.us   If you see the commissioners, ask them about this project and why they should oppose it. Diane Rowden has been the one strong opponent to this project!

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:  justsaynotomining@gmail.com.


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