Hernando Phoenix: Hernando Board of County Commissioners Approves Economic Impact Study, Then Changes It’s Mind

January 7, 2015

 http://hernandophoenix.com/13678/103170/a/hernando-board-of-county-commissioners-approves-economic-impact-study-then-chang
January 07, 2015
Hernando County Residents take heed. There is a very important hearing coming up Tuesday Jan. 13 at the Hernando County Commission to decide whether or not to move forward regarding an Economic Impact Study. Moving forward with an economic impact study was agreed upon by the BOCC at the end of the hearing that took place December 16, 2014. A short time later the BOCC changed it’s mind and stopped the study. The people of Hernando County are entitled to know what is going on, and most of all why our right to peaceful enjoyment, economic growth, environmental protection, clean drinking water from natural wells and pure air are willing to be sacrificed for a 20 year Comprehensive Land Use plan change allowing mine expansion, blasting, carcinogenic chemicals released into the atmosphere and destruction of our potable water sources; all destroyed when not a single new job will be created.It is important to mark your calendars now to be at the County Commission hearing next Tuesday, Jan. 13th in Brooksville. Plan to fill out a speaker form and speak out. The commission will consider whether to fund an economic impact study of the CEMEX mine project. The agenda will be posted this Friday so we’ll know more about what time to be there at that time.County procurement officer Russ Wetherington will ask for direction after being told to stop the process to allow Dr. Richard Weisskoff to do the study that he had been directed to commission earlier. The skuttlebutt is that Russ is now being told that the state review may do the job, or that they don’t need one at all, or that the expert recommended is not qualified because he is biased. So that’s why it is on the agenda. Your voice can help let the commissioners know that:

* YES–it is their responsibility to be fully informed on the financial consequences and impact to our local economy if this project is approved.

* NO–the state review will not replace a local economic impact study done by a qualified expert with experience in this field who will look at localized impacts.

* NO–CEMEX experts have already lied and will not tell them the truth about the fiscal damage it will do to the county if we allow mining to replace or discourage other economic activity for the next 20 years. But even CEMEX admits this will not create one new job!

The state review is perfunctory at best and at most designed to insure that permits are issued in a timely manner. Governor Scott’s administration has only turned down one permit since he entered office, so don’t expect the state to be looking out for YOUR property value impacts, reduction in green jobs and tourism, reduction in business corridor growth, etc.

R. Bruce McLaughlin, AICP, MCIP, President of Bruce McLaughlin Consulting Services, Inc states, “From 1985 to 2010, Florida’s beauty and its economy were protected by some of the nation’s strongest growth management laws. Over the past four years growth management in Florida has been gutted. My sympathies are usually with the business community, but the State’s attack on growth management is so extreme that I come down on this issue on the side of stronger growth management laws and policies. Florida and her people will pay a steep price in the loss of natural resources and of economic opportunity as growth management becomes increasingly weaker.”

Calls to Russ Weatherington at the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Department have not been returned.

The agencies have to turn this around in 45 days beginning Dec. 20th. Many agencies don’t do much but send it back as “just fine. ” There is no department of community affairs anymore.

This is probably the biggest decision this commission will make that will change the character of our community forever. The community has got to stand up and demand a professional experienced in economic impacts to give them the facts and real numbers that matter.

A Dr. Richard Weisskoff was recommended to do the study based on a similar one he produced for Levy County. He is a Harvard graduate with extensive experience in this area and this subject matter. He wrote the Everglades Restoration budget. He found that the Hendry County proposal for mining overlooked the value of agricultural jobs and income and helped better inform that commission. He found that tourism and fishing were more valuable than mining in Levy County and helped them make a good decision. He has done many such studies. But now the excuse from our BOCC is that he is now being put off so other “unbiased” consultants can be found. Hernando County residents need solid facts that are often overlooked or even fabricated by petitioners such as CEMEX and their paid experts.

CEMEX and the property owners of the parcel in question don’t want this to happen because they know they are not creating any new jobs and that there are better uses for this land that may come out in the report. We really don’t know what the analysis will reveal; that’s why we need an expert to more fully inform us. We’re working with a Board of County Commissioners that can’t make up it’s mind about chicken coops, much less a twenty year mining plan that directly impacts our health.

I know it’s short notice, but please try to be there. We must keep working for a healthy community and sustainable long term economic growth based on our abundant natural resources, not depletion of them.

For more information on what the issues and challenges we are facing please visit http://www.neighborsagainstmining.org

 

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Neighbors Against Mining January 7, 2015 at 8:13 pm

Thanks for posting this Dorothy; I don’t think many people know that the future of this community–far beyond the 20 years of new mining CEMEX is asking for— is at risk of being decided without any knowledge of the economic impacts on the part of our commissioners. Diane Rowden tried to get this study approved at the Dec. 9th hearing; they approved it at the Dec. 16th hearing and now it is being reconsidered. What has changed? Did the applicants put pressure on the county to stop this new information which may make mining look like a bad deal for the county?

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