Hernando Commission Votes To Send Controversial Mining Plan On For State Review

December 10, 2014

Thanks to Diane Rowden

Thanks to Diane Rowden for standing up and voting no. She also moved to commission an economic impact study, but no one would second her motion.  Thanks to all the heroes who stood up and spoke after waiting for hours in the stacked agenda, especially those who came back after the county commission adjourned to hold a Regional Planning Authority meeting, and then reconvene around 3:30.

Shame on the county  commission for allowing CEMEX 45 minutes for their experts, while we were unable to get even 15 minutes beyond the 3-minutes for each public commenter.  Then CEMEX was  allowed to come back and rebut everyone again for another half hour when they presented further experts.  Does not even appear fair to all concerned when we had expert presentations to read into the record and were denied and of course given no rebuttal either. (See Board of County Commissioners Video Link – Dec 9, 2014 9:00 AM Diane Rowden makes her plea for an economic impact study at 2 hours, 6 minutes into the video [link above]).

Full link to entire day’s documentation here.)

Tampa Bay Times

Barbara Behrendt, Times Staff Writer

Tuesday, December 9, 2014 9:24pm

BROOKSVILLE — A standing-room-only crowd of Hernando County residents packed the County Commission chambers on Tuesday, most of them urging commissioners to reject plans that would allow rock mining on hundreds of acres of residential and agricultural land at the western edge of Brooksville.

Many residents warned that the 20-year mining lease proposed for land owned by some of the county’s most prominent and influential business leaders would negatively affect property values, ruin wildlife habitat, and taint the water and the air.

But four of five county commissioners were not convinced that the plan was so problematic and voted to send the proposal by Cemex Construction Materials Florida and the land owners to state officials for further review.

After that review, the proposal will return to the commissioners. To give final approval, a super-majority of at least four commissioners will have to vote for a change to the Hernando County Comprehensive Plan allowing the mining expansion and reconfiguration of a commercial project previously approved for part of a 730-acre parcel that fronts State Road 50. Ownership of the various parcels includes former mining executive Tommy Bronson, local lawyer Joe Mason, bank executive Jim Kimbrough and real estate broker Robert Buckner.

Commissioner Diane Rowden cast the opposing vote.

Attorney Darryl Johnston, who represents the property owners, and Cemex expert witnesses argued that many of the residents’ criticisms were invalid, including the number of protected species that would lose habitat, the impact of blasting and the potential effects on water, air quality and property values.

Commissioners and the audience watched videos showing a virtual view of the proposed mining operation from the top floor of nearby Bayfront Health Brooksville hospital, as well as what drivers on State Road 50 would see.

Cemex official James Morris said the operation would not be visible from State Road 50, the hospital or Fort Dade Avenue because of berms and tree buffers.

Residents presented more than 1,000 petitions, as well as statements from local doctors and supporting resolutions from groups including a church and nearby Sierra Clubs representing more than 4,000 members. More than 40 people spoke against the proposal.

DeeVon Quirolo, who has led opposition to the plan, told commissioners that the expansion was “a bad deal for Hernando County” and detailed its inconsistency with various parts of the Hernando County Comprehensive Plan.


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Hernando commission votes to send controversial mining plan on for state review 12/09/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, December 9, 2014 9:23pm]


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The Hernando County Commission hearing to determine if CEMEX can mine for the next 20 years will be decided on December 9th at the Courthouse Government Center, 20 North Main Street,  in Brooksville.    This hearing is designed to provide an opportunity to hear from you. The decision the commissioners make will determine the future of Hernando County. Don’t miss this chance to improve our future.  A simple majority vote is required to kill this bad deal.

Do we want to move forward, with nature and cultural tourism  and a healthy, sustainable economy with long term jobs and growth?   Or do we go back to the stone age with open pit industrial mining that will not bring one new job for twenty years?  Mining at this location so near to our county seat and on our business corridor will discourage those who would come here to enjoy our abundant natural resources.   It will threaten the health of nearby neighbors and businesses, hospital personnel and the 7,100 residents of Brooksville with carcinogenic silica dust at this ill-advised location directly across the street from our community hospital.  It’s just a bad location for heavy industrial mining.

Mark your calendar now to attend and speak out. The meeting begins at 9 a.m.  Get there early to find parking and a seat in the room, which opens at 8am.  Ask for a form to fill out and turn in to speak.  You will get 3 minutes so be concise and explain who you are–resident, property owner, etc. and why you don’t want mining at this location at this time.  

The commissioners will consider if the application is consistent with existing adjacent uses and if CEMEX has proven a need for mining at this location. If you are an adjacent property owner, you need to tell them it is not consistent with  your rightful expectation of quiet enjoyment of your private property in an area that has been zoned residential for a very long time.  Changing a zoning from rural residential/commercial to industrial mining is a radically inconsistent use for this land.  So speak up!  

The agenda of the meeting is online at  http://hernandocountyfl.iqm2.com/citizens/. It is a very full agenda with many other items before CEMEX, so plan to stay for many hours and possibly into the afternoon.



Background Information: 

CEMEX is seeking approval to change the Hernando County Comprehensive Land Use Plan to allow for open pit industrial lime rock mining for the next 20 years on 728 acres located on Cortez Boulevard, the business corridor leading into Historic Brooksville, across from Bayfront Health Hospital.

The open pit industrial mining is a serious health threat that will generate 20 years of silica dust, a known carcinogen. This is too close to the hospital, the historic town of Brooksville that is downwind of the atmospheric pollution and the more than 50 homes and 150 neighbors in the area. We oppose more mining because of the blasting, wave tremors, dust pollution, damage to homes and diminished quality of life we’ve already experienced. Fresh water wells may be affected and property values will drop.

This land is part of the Peck Sink Watershed, a special protection area because of its value to our water supplies.  Excavation would remove the protective layer of topsoil from this property.  Mining out the  porous limestone would produce erosion since the northern section is approximately 100 feet higher than the southern section leading to the hospital and the rest of Peck Sink.  This steep elevation drop would enable rapid movement of groundwater across the mined area to the sink.  The groundwater flow path would be affected, resulting in a direct hydraulic connection for sediment and pollutants to enter this protected aquifer.  The decline in water levels in the mined area could lower water levels in wells, particularly north and west of the mined area.  Water quality south of the mine would decline due to the erosion and contamination by sediment and pollutants from the mined area. It would undo the millions of dollars invested to protect the water quality within the Peck Sink Watershed, a special protection area.

The proposed mining area is bordered to the north by Fort Dade Avenue, a protected canopy road. The miners plan to build a tunnel or conveyor belt under the road to move the lime rock–how will they avoid damage to this protected road?  The conveyor will lead to an existing mine north and to the CEMEX concrete plant that has been cited for mercury and dioxin air quality violations.

The parcel contains 375.9 acres of upland hardwood forest that is rated a strategic habitat conservation area by the state. It provides habitat to 8 species of special concern, 6 threatened species — bald eagles, Florida Black Bear and gopher tortoises–and one endangered species—the Wood Stork in addition to abundant other wildlife that would be destroyed if mining were allowed.

The historic African American Spring Hill Cemetery where generations of early residents are buried, including World War I veterans, is within the proposed mining parcel and would be at risk.  Plans to mine all around the cemetery will create a vulnerable, elevated parcel of land containing historic vaults that is subject to erosion and damage from the blasting all around it and near the dirt road leading to the highway.

Plus, this project will not create one new job. This is a bad deal for Hernando County at a time when we are trying to grow our economy through tourism. You can’t have an open pit industrial mine on the road to Brooksville and expect visitors to come here for a Nature Coast experience.  The county is investing millions; why work against ourselves for a clean, economically strong future  based on ecotourism?

What you can do:

*Plan now to attend the county commission hearing on Tuesday, December 9th

*Send in your written comments to planning@hernandocounty.us. In the subject line, enter CEMEX CPAM 1102. Copy commissioners at NNicholson@hernandocounty.us, wdukes@hernandocounty.us, drowden@hernandocounty.us, jadkins@hernandocounty.us, and jholcomb@hernandocounty.us.  (It is too late for them to be included in the agenda packet for this hearing but the emails may reach them).

*Ask friends and neighbors to sign our petition—it can be printed from our website—and turn it in at the meeting or mail it to us by Dec. 5 to: Neighbors, 222 E. Liberty St, Brooksville, FL 34601.

*Learn more at http://www.neighborsagainstmining.org. Email justsaytonomining@gmail.com to get involved.


Neighbors Against Mining is seeking tax deductible donations for the legal and expert fees to stop the CEMEX 20-year mining application.   Please help us reach our goal!

Make a tax deductible donation to Nature Coast Conservation, Inc. for the Neighbors Against Mining project.  Nature Coast Conservation Inc. is a Florida not for profit with IRS 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. The official registration and financial information is on file and available from the Florida Division of Consumer Services.

Make a secure tax-deductible contribution online at:    https://rally.org

Mail your check to:  Nature Coast Conservation, 222 East Liberty Street, Brooksville, FL 34601.



Are you in?  Neighbors Against Mining is planning our final public action to oppose CEMEX’s expanded mining plans in Hernando County near Brooksville.  We will be waving signs and banners to heighten awareness of the mining proposal to be considered at the December 9th meeting of the Hernando County Commission.  Join us in front of the proposed mining parcel on Cortez Boulevard across the street from Bayfront Health Hospital near Brooksville on December 8th–the day  before the hearing– during high traffic times, i.e., 6:30 a.m. until 9 a.m. and then again at 3:30 pm until sunset on these days.

“We are all volunteers trying to make Hernando a better place to live. Join us to help get out the word that mining at this location is not in our best interests. Hernando is at a crossroads; we can either pursue economic growth through sustainable tourism and similar activities, or we can go back to the stone age with more mining, that has brought neither economic prosperity nor good health for Hernando residents in the past,” said DeeVon Quirolo, President of Nature Coast Conservation, Neighbors Against Mining Project.

We have plenty of signs.  If interested, just show up.  Or email us at:  justsaynotomining@gmail.com for more info or to let us know your coming.  See below some images from our efforts on Monday and Wednesday.

Future home of CEMEX Mary Ellen           Crush the quarry Jill    Honk for Health Rosemarie

Tina honk for health   MaryEllen & Tina   Let Veterans Rest in Peace




Summer Magic was just that!

Thanks to all who turned out for Summer Magic, our reception and silent auction Friday August 29th.  It was a wonderful mix of interesting people,  who enjoyed lots of good food and beautiful music by John and Jonathan.  During the silent auction, 55 items donated by generous supporters were sold, raising thousands of dollars to build our legal and expert witness fund for the December 9th final hearing on the CEMEX  proposal.  See the sidebar for more pix of the event or visit our facebook page Summer Magic or Neighbors Against Mining.

Our team

Our Action Team at Neighbors Against Mining includes:  (left to right)

Rosemarie Grubba, Cynthia Dietrich, Gwen Bassick, DeeVon Quirolo, Mary Ellen Urban,

Jill Graddy, Anita Stewart, Diane Oriza and Viennessee Black.


About Neighbors Against Mining: 

Neighbors Against Mining is an all volunteer organization created to stop CEMEX’s plan for open pit lime rock mining on property fronting Cortez Boulevard for the next 20 years. On July 14th, the Planning Commission voted 4-1 to deny it. The county commission hearing on the matter has been postponed until December 9th, 2014.

Volunteers are invited to get involved. Right now we are getting signatures of Hernando County residents and property owners for our petition drive.  You can download the petition on this site, and help us by asking your friends and neighbors to sign it  and then return it to us at the address below.

Another way to help is to join our Action Team.  We meet regularly and are sharing information with various organizations.   If you are a member of a club that may be interested in learning more about the CEMEX proposal,  we are available to come to your meeting and speak and then ask those present to sign our petition.

Another way to show your support is by making a  tax deductible donation, which is always  most welcome. Write your check to Nature Coast Conservation, Inc. and mail it to 222 E. Liberty Street, Brooksville, FL. 34601. Neighbors Against Mining is a project of Nature Coast Conservation, Inc, a  Florida 501(c)(3) corporation that is registered with the State of Florida Department of Consumer Affairs and has been granted IRS tax-exempt status.

For more information, email: justsaynotomining@gmail.com.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Tina Henize December 12, 2014 at 9:44 pm

If our BOCC ‘yes’ vote to transmit was not so sinister — obviously pandering to the big corporation CEMEX and the local power/money honchos at the virtual and actual expense of most citizens in this county — it would be laughable. But try as I might, it’s very hard to laugh at this. Only one Commissioner had the cojones and intelligence to stand up to ‘The Power’ and, surprise, SHE is a Dem. (You know I hate politics and Parties, but this fact is not lost on me.) On the other end, we have 2 extremely nasty and disrespectful Commissioners right now, with a third maybe ‘in training’ (I choose to wait and see on him). The amendment opposition has been tremendously strong and in some ways effective (it’s not over yet), which is amazing considering the massive, blatant and pompous obstruction from Big Biz and ‘friends’. Today, giving great thanks and kudos to this group for their HARD, long and ‘stickin-to-it’ work . You guys ROCK!!!


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