Friday, December 15, 2017
News Roundup

Mining group seeks delay on Brooksville land use hearing

BROOKSVILLE — Just a week after a resounding rejection by the Hernando County Planning and Zoning Commission, the applicants for the Cemex mining expansion west of Brooksville have asked for a delay in their next hearing.

The application by Cemex and the landowners to change the county land use map to convert 573 acres of residential property to mining was slated to go before the Hernando County Commission on Aug. 12. The applicants want to delay the hearing until December.

The application is part of a larger request to switch 730 acres, along Cortez Boulevard west of Cobb Road and south of Fort Dade Avenue, from residential and commercial overlay to mining and commercial overlay.

The land is owned by several prominent local businessmen and would be mined for lime rock by Cemex for 20 years. After that, the land would revert back to residential use, the applicants told the planning board. Still, four of the five planning commissioners voted to recommend that the County Commission deny the application.

According to a hand-delivered letter from the applicants' attorney, Darryl Johnston, residents and planning board members "expressed concern about the appearance of the property during and after mining, and its perceived negative impact on visitors to the Nature Coast."

To answer those concerns, Johnston wrote, "My client is willing to create a virtual view of the property from State Road 50 and Fort Dade Avenue providing a conceptual 'during mining' view. This will allow everyone to see that site impacts are not as represented by many of those who spoke at the last hearing."

The delay is needed to do the topographical and surveying work needed to create the virtual view while streamlining responses to issues raised during the planning board meeting, Johnston wrote.

"This is interesting," said Dee Von Quirolo, who has led the opposition to the mining expansion. "The applicant wants to dazzle us with technology, but that still doesn't take away from the many serious issues we raised, including the health concerns, the impacts in our neighborhood from the blasting, the effects on the canopy road, to the Spring Hill Cemetery and operations at the hospital, as well as the effect on all the people living in Brooksville."

Had the planning board recommended approval of the change in the land use map, she said, "that would be going backward to mining instead of forward."

Quirolo said she didn't expect that the delay would hurt the opponents' momentum. They still have documentation that they believe proved to the majority of the planning commission that the proposed comprehensive plan change was not compatible. To change the plan, a super-majority of the County Commission will have to vote yes, meaning at least four of the five commissioners.

In his letter, Johnston said he expects the delay will be automatic, according to county policy.

According to commission policy, "a first request for postponement of a public hearing item received at least ten days prior to the scheduled public hearing will automatically be granted. The petitioner is required to send notice of the postponement to property owners within 250 (feet) of the subject property … at least ten days prior to the public hearing."

Johnston said he plans to meet that mailing requirement.

Contact Barbara Behrendt at [email protected] or (352) 848-1434.

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