Saturday, April 21, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Hernando should reject rock mine proposal

The Hernando County Commission should think more about the future than the past today when it considers whether to recommend changing the county's comprehensive plan to allow rock mining on more than 500 acres of desirable land just off a key business corridor. The county has a long history of using rock mining to create jobs, but its future is in residential communities, ecotourism and smarter commercial development. The commission should reject the land-use change and stand up to the pressure from well-connected landowners.

Cemex, which is based in Mexico and is the world's largest rock mining company, is seeking the land-use change to allow the mining and to adjust a commercial development proposed for part of a 730-acre parcel. The company would lease the land from several Brooksville business power brokers and argues that the new mine would be a natural extension of its existing mining operations in Hernando. Officials say the mine would be out of sight to most visitors, and the county would require a 400-foot buffer between well-traveled State Road 50 and an earthen berm around the mine.

Adding another large mining operation, particularly at this location, would not benefit Hernando County. Cemex acknowledges the new mine would not create additional jobs in a county where the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high at 7.7 percent compared with the statewide rate of 5.8 percent. The company says it would create no additional truck traffic and the rock would be carried by conveyor to its nearby operation. But generally keeping the new mine out of sight does not mean it should be out of mind.

This new mine would be across from Bayfront Health Brooksville, and it raises concerns about noise and air quality. Cemex says there would be no impact on ground water because all of the mining would take place above the water table, but a geologist hired by neighbors advises more study. What is not in dispute is that hundreds of acres of hardwood forest would be lost. Moving ahead with the land-use change could lead to a mining operation that would tie up this well-positioned property for at least two decades.

Hernando's Planning and Zoning Commission rejected the land-use plan change by a 4-1 vote in July. That board recommended that the land, which is zoned for agriculture now, be marked for future residential development. It also concluded opponents had raised reasonable questions about declining home values, noise and air pollution, and potential sinkholes. The County Commission should recognize the same concerns and look toward the future.

While mining has been a key part of Hernando County's economy for decades, the future holds a different promise. The corridor along State Road 50, Cortez Boulevard, has the potential to be a vibrant, attractive gateway leading into Brooksville from the Suncoast Parkway. While supporting a land-use change today to allow the mine would trigger state studies and not be the final word, there is no need to move forward on this, and county commissioners should reject it. To endorse the destruction of hundreds of acres of woodlands for a new mine that would create no new jobs when there is so much more potential would be shortsighted.

Comments
Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

Editorial: New Cuba president is chance for new start

For all the symbolism, Raul Castro’s handoff of the Cuban presidency this week amounts to less than meets the eye even if his handpicked successor, the Communist Party functionary Miguel Diaz-Canel Bermudez, is the first person not named Castro to le...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: A missed chance for open primary elections

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission did a lot of things wrong this week by combining unrelated or unpalatable provisions into single amendments that will appear on the November ballot. It also wasted an opportunity to do one thing right. The...
Published: 04/20/18
Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

Editorial: When they visit Nature’s Classroom, kids are right where they belong

The Hillsborough school district planted a fruitful seed with the opening of Nature’s Classroom five decades ago on the cypress-lined banks of the Hillsborough River northeast of Tampa. • The lessons taught there to some 17,000 sixth graders each yea...
Published: 04/20/18

Editorial: Equality pays off on Southwest Flight 1380

The passengers of Southwest Flight 1380 can be thankful that, 33 years ago, the U.S. Navy took the lead on equal opportunity.Capt. Tammie Jo Shults was piloting the flight from New York to Dallas on Tuesday when an engine exploded, blowing out a wind...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Editorial: Why single-member districts would be bad for Hillsborough commission

Anyone looking to make Hillsborough County government bigger, costlier, more dysfunctional and less of a regional force should love the idea that Commissioner Sandy Murman rolled out this week. She proposes enlarging the seven-member board to nine, e...
Published: 04/19/18
Updated: 04/20/18
Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

Editorial: Improving foster care in Hillsborough

A new foster care provider in Hillsborough County is poised to take over operations in May, only months after its predecessor was fired for what was alleged to be a pattern of failing to supervise at-risk children in its care. Many of the case manage...
Published: 04/18/18

Another voice: Back to postal reform

President Donald Trump is angry at Amazon for, in his tweeted words, "costing the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy." Yet in more recent days, Trump has at least channeled his feelings in what could prove...
Published: 04/17/18
Updated: 04/18/18
Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

Editorial: Congress should protect independence of special counsel

A bipartisan Senate bill clarifying that only the attorney general or a high-ranking designee could remove a special prosecutor would send an important message amid President Donald Trump’s attacks on the investigation into Russia’s inter...
Published: 04/16/18
Updated: 04/17/18
Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

Editorial: Don’t fall for Constitution Revision Commission’s tricks

The Florida Constitution Revision Commission has wasted months as a politically motivated scam masquerading as a high-minded effort to ask voters to improve the state’s fundamental document. The commission on Monday added amendments to the Nove...
Published: 04/16/18
Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Editorial: Redner’s court win on medical marijuana sends message

Florida regulators have done far too little to make voter-approved medical marijuana widely available for patients suffering from chronic illnesses. A circuit court judge in Tallahassee ruled last week there is a price for that obstruction, finding t...
Published: 04/15/18
Updated: 04/16/18