Resolution of the Unitarian Universalist of the Pines, Brooksville

October 20, 2014

Resolution in Opposition to CEMEX Mining near Brooksville, Florida
Whereas, five leading Hernando County, Florida, property owners have merged their properties and leased it to CEMEX for 20 years.
Whereas, CEMEX Construction Materials Florida, LLC has filed an application to amend the Hernando County Comprehensive Plan to convert this leasehold of 728 acres of undeveloped land that is currently zoned agricultural to a mining zoning;
Whereas, CEMEX seeks to commence open pit lime rock mining at this site over the next 20 years;
Whereas, the 738 acre parcel is located on Cortez Boulevard along the business corridor leading into Brooksville;
Whereas, the property is located across from the Bayfront Health Brooksville Hospital with the threat of aerial pollution, noise and blasting that may interfere with delicate instruments, patient recovery, and medical procedures;
Whereas, the northern boundary of the property is Fort Dade Avenue–a protected county canopy road—that contains prime strategic conservation lands and beyond that a current Cemex mining operation and cement plant that will receive all the product from the mining;
Whereas, this application contains 246.3 acres of Woodland, Hardwood Hammocks or Freshwater Marshlands and another 129.6 acres of Wooded Rural for a total of 375.9 acres of dense habitat of a total of 573.47 acres. The remaining acreage is pastureland with many large trees. The County Planning Department report says: “Florida Ecological Greenways Network (FEGN) mapping shows the upland hardwood forest (G4) to be an under-represented natural community in preservation. FWC mapping also shows the property contains strategic habitat conservation areas as a priority 3 (the highest priority is 5). The northern portion of the existing mining area owned by Cemex coincides with the FWC Florida Ecological Greenways Network mapping for prime wildlife habitat corridors.”
Whereas, The Listed Species Survey reported that this land provides known habitat for 8 Species of Special Concern, 6 Threatened Species, and Endangered Species, in addition to numerous other animals. The Wood Stork is the endangered species and “The project is within the Primary Zone (within 1500 feet) or the Secondary Zone (1501—2500 feet) of three wood stork colonies at Croom, Weeki Watchee and 611305.” Threatened species for this habitat include the Southeastern American Kestrel and the Bald Eagle. Within a radius of 3 miles, there are three colonies of bald eagles and this area is located within its Core Foraging Area (CFA). The Florida Black Bear is another threatened species and this application states: “Based on the FWC road kills and nuisance report data bases, bears may traverse this property.” The Eastern Indigo Snake—that occur in or near gopher tortoise burrows is another threatened species along with the Gopher tortoise. “Flatwoods personnel observed several potentially occupied gopher tortoise burrows within the property.” See map with numerous gopher tortoise burrows sited. The survey found this habitat also supports the following Species of Special Concern: Gopher Frog , Little Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Tri-colored Heron, White Ibis, Florida Sandhill Crane, Florida Mouse—“They use gopher tortoise burrows as refuges” and Florida Pine Snake—the report says: “They often co-exist with gopher tortoises.” In addition, “Several wildlife species were observed… that include white-tailed deer, wild turkey, nine-banded armadillo, black racer, eastern gray squirrel, red-shouldered hawk, pileated and downy woodpecker, and several species of passerine birds including American robin, Northern cardinal, blue jay, ground dove and mourning dove.”
Whereas, The property is located within the Peck Sink Watershed and the vulnerable Floridan Aquifer where the beneficial karst will be removed.
Whereas, silica dust generated by open pit mining is a known health threat from the atmospheric pollution it generates and all the lime rock from this excavation will be utilized by the CEMEX co-generation Cement Plant which is a coal burning plant that the NAACP has identified as one of the 5th dirtiest coal plants in Florida;
Whereas, the blasting, noise and tremors associated with open pit industrial mining have a known potential to impact adjacent uses and affect the karst geology of the area;
Whereas this parcel encircles the historic Spring Hill Cemetery where World War I veterans are buried along with generations of early African American residents whose vaulted remains will be disturbed by the blasting and excavations;
Whereas the property is located near over 50 residences along Fort Dade Road and thereabouts whose owners and families have experienced the negative impacts of mining further north of this area; many are opposed to more mining and worried about their fresh water wells will be contaminated or drawn down due to mining activities that include a well for dust control;
Whereas, a careful reading of the CEMEX application reveals that this mining proposal is contrary to and internally inconsistent with several elements of the Hernando County Comprehensive Land Use Plan and the cumulative impacts are daunting. Several statements in the application regarding potential impacts are under-stated and/or inaccurate.
Whereas the county staff report recommended that the Planning Commission review, hold a public hearing and offer recommendations for this application (instead of recommending approval of it); and
Whereas the Hernando County Planning Commission at their hearing on this matter held July 14th, 2014, and voted 4-1 to deny this application as inconsistent with the current comprehensive land use plan;
Whereas, this application will now be considered by the Board of County Commissioners, sitting as the Local Planning Agency and the BOCC, at their regularly-scheduled meeting on December 9th, 2014;
Now therefore, it is resolved by THE UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST CHURCH IN THE PINES OF BROOKSVILLE FLORIDA as follows:
1. We find that the cumulative impacts of the CEMEX application for a land use plan change to mine for the next 20 years in this parcel of 728 acres near Brooksville, Florida, will result in negative impacts to adjacent uses, destruction of valuable upland hardwood hammocks and will threaten endangered and threatened species and may generate a public health threat from atmospheric pollution of silica dust;
2. We urge the Hernando County Board of County Commissioners to find that the CEMEX application is inconsistent with the current comprehensive land use plan and deny it.
Acknowledged and affirmed by a vote of the membership at a meeting of The Unitarian Universalist Church in the Pines Board of Trustees held on October 12, 2014.
Irene A Kiem,
President

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