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Controversial mining proposal resurfaces in Hernando; public meeting set to explain details

Coal sits piled ready to fuel the kiln at the Brooksville South Cemex Plant.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times (2011)

Coal sits piled ready to fuel the kiln at the Brooksville South Cemex Plant.

BROOKSVILLE — Plans to expand the mining operations of Cemex Construction Materials Florida south to Cortez Boulevard are back on the table.

The proposal was first discussed with county planners in early 2011 and went before the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission in June of that year. But residents around the proposed expansion objected strenuously.

Planning officials ordered the applicants to hold a public meeting to work through some of the issues and to more fully explain the proposal, but once again residents objected. The application has sat dormant since.

Recently, yellow signs sprang up on the property along Cortez announcing that the mining plan will again be presented to interested residents in preparation for a new application by Cemex. A public meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. April 16 at the Hernando County Mining Association Enrichment Center at 800 John Gary Grubbs Blvd. in Brooksville.

In the interim, the owners of the property and Cemex officials, which had planned to lease the land for 20 years, worked through some of the issues raised by residents and also some internal issues, according to county senior planner Paul Wieczorek.

"They obviously want to move on with the project now that they have all of their issues resolved,'' Wieczorek said.

The original proposal was a comprehensive plan amendment that would change the future land use of 730 acres from residential and commercial overlay to mining and commercial overlay.

The property is bordered on the north and west by Fort Dade Avenue and on the south by Cortez Boulevard. The eastern border is just west of Cobb Road. The proposal was to change 573 acres within that boundary to mining.

Owners of the nine now-vacant parcels include prominent Hernando businessmen Tommy Bronson, Jim Kimbrough, Robert Buckner and Joe Mason, as well as Zeneda Partners Limited Partnership.

Residents' concerns included fears that their homes would be damaged by mining operations and that they would lose the natural habitat around their homes. Others voiced worries about what would happen to the nearby historic Spring Hill Cemetery and how the company would handle blasting noise.

Cemex representatives in the past have assured residents that they can be placed on a list of people to be notified when blasting will take place. The company also has argued that it plans a larger-than-needed buffer area around the perimeter of the active blasting zone.

The company also provided residents information about how the project would be done in phases and how dirt would be mounded at digging sites to abate noise, then be used for reclamation after the mining activity was complete.

As many trees as possible would be kept on the site, and wetlands destroyed would be replaced, the residents were told previously. Water for the residents should not be affected, and any damage that the mining operations would cause, from cracks in homes to sinkholes, would be covered by Cemex, officials said.

Details of the new proposal may change.

Wieczorek said that after the public meeting, the applicants would submit information about that meeting and new applications to the county. The project would then have to go through several additional steps before a final decision would be made by the County Commission.

Barbara Behrendt can be reached at behrendt@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1434.

Controversial mining proposal resurfaces in Hernando; public meeting set to explain details 04/08/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, April 8, 2014 6:25pm]

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