Hernando Today Letter to Editor by Jennifer Sullivan: Say no to CEMEX expansion plans

November 28, 2014

http://www.tampabay.com/opinion/letters/hernando-letters-say-no-to-cemex-expansion-plans/2208084#comments

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 4:10pm

I am writing to ask the county commissioners to follow the professional advice of the county planning and zoning department (and the planning commission, which voted 4-1 in opposition to the comprehensive plan change) and please say no to more mining expansion by Cemex.

As an activist for justice, and as a businessperson, I’ve heard from both sides, and I understand their points quite well. A public face of Cemex is its public relations representative from Houston. In a recent debate on a Tampa radio station, her presentation was a typical company promo, and the audience could find out things about Cemex that we might learn at the grade-school level.

In contrast, the debater taking the opposite point of view spoke at what I’d call a university level. She presented facts, statistics, studies and a grownup reality about things like toxins in our air that spread beyond the general vicinity of the mine — primarily silica, which, unlike sand at the beach, is blasted into minuscule particles that embed in lungs, causing deadly disease. She spoke of real-time quality of life and property value lost by citizens who purchased land and homes in a residential zone that is bordered by what is currently compatible zoning.

We are told that our county comprehensive plan is not done willy-nilly and that its substantial cost to taxpayers is for extensive studies that are thorough and in the overall best interests of Hernando County. Any time an entity wants to modify or change this plan, it is almost always to boost its own profit that very often disregards the effect on anyone else.

I don’t doubt that Cemex has done some good for our county, but no amount of “good things” qualify any entity to cause damage to the residents who live nearby. It does not give them the right to lower the property values of those existing homes, damage even one of those existing homes, disrupt their lifestyle or pollute their air and water merely for profit.

No company in the U.S. should be able to disturb the final resting place of anyone just for the additional profit that it would like to have, which is what this expansion would do. Blasting may have gotten more sophisticated, but it’s still a hard-hat operation and a far cry from being compared to something as delicate noninvasive laser surgery.

Any experienced observer has seen that entities that want a comprehensive plan change offer promises of “wonderful concessions” and deals to get their way. I’d like to refer to the beautiful canopy road (Fort Dade Avenue), where at first Cemex offered a tunnel under the trees and road. In the radio debate, there seems to be a change of plan, which would transport the material over the trees so as to not damage the roots of the ancient trees. Just try to envision what that would look like.

Cemex touts how good it has been for Hernando County. Well, our county can counter that Hernando has been pretty darn good to Cemex by allowing the company to extract our resources for its enrichment and by giving it contracts for various county projects.

Please consider the overall good for the majority of the citizens of Hernando County and deny the comp plan change for the Cemex mining expansion on Dec. 9.

Jennifer Sullivan, Spring Hill

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