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Letter: New Cemex mine a bad deal for Brooksville and Hernando County

Published: February 27, 2018 Updated: February 27, 2018 at 01:37 PM

New Cemex mine a bad deal for Brooksville and Hernando County

Cemex seeks a land-use amendment for open pit lime rock mining on 758 acres on Cortez Boulevard in Hernando County. Itís a bad deal for Brooksville and the county. Replacing the current residential use with mining violates numerous provisions of our land-use plan because it is incompatible with adjacent uses.

Mining would restrict the quiet peaceful enjoyment of adjacent properties. More than 200 residents of this area invested here not expecting it to change from residential to mining and donít want the negative impacts on their quality of life, property values and health.

The Historic African American Spring Hill Cemetery is enclosed within this parcel. Cemex plans to mine within 200 feet of it and down 60 feet on two sides where generations of African American families and military veterans are buried.

Bayfront Health hospital is just across Cortez Boulevard. Local physicians, medical organizations, experts and the community are concerned with exposure to air pollution and possible interruption of delicate equipment and hospital operations. Lime rock dust contains silica, a known carcinogen.

The 7,100 residents of Brooksville are within a three-mile range and downwind of the airborne pollution, blasting and truck traffic. We need jobs, not more trucks lumbering through town, impeding our booming economic growth from tourism and destroying quality of life.

Mining is an inconsistent use when sited adjacent to any one of these uses, but certainly more so when surrounded by all five of them.

Furthermore, no need nor demand for more lime rock has been established. Hernando has more than 12,000 acres of land already permitted for mines. New mines have opened in Pasco, and most demand in Florida is met by mines in South Florida. Cemex plans to abandon the Brooksville Quarry north of this parcel and move their employees to the new mine, leaving that site blighted until they return after 20 years to mine again there.

The land is unsuitable due to the hydrology, geology, habitat and wildlife. This parcel contains 375.9 acres of upland hardwood forest that is prime wildlife habitat. The northern border is on Fort Dade Avenue, a protected canopy road. Cemex plans to build a conveyor belt across the road that would destroy its beauty.

The parcel is within the Peck Sink Watershed where the county spent $2.4 million dollars to protect water quality. Blasting and excavation could cause groundwater contamination once the limestone is removed down 60 feet, creating a huge pit.

This new mine would not create one new job. Nature tourism is a better way. You canít have it both ways: tourists are not drawn to a mining town. Tourism generates more than 200 times more income to Hernando County than mining, according to Visit Florida.

For these good reasons, we encourage the county commission to do its part to ensure a prosperous, healthy, sustainable community and say no to Cemex.

DeeVon Quirolo, president, Nature Coast Conservation Neighbors Against Mining Project