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Landfill deal finally struck

After spending 18 months deadlocked on details of the county's new landfill, county commissioners finally hammered out an agreement Wednesday on two crucial issues: price and sand. The commissioners agreed to pay Florida Mining and Materials $3,000 an acre for approximately 140 acres in northern Hernando County.

They also agreed to let the company mine the sand on the property _ sand the company says is particularly well suited to the making of Portland cement.

The final written agreement is expected to be formally approved by the commissioners in late July.

The landfill is being constructed with proceeds from an $11.5-million bond issue. The proceeds also will be used to close the county's current landfill on Croom Road, which must cease operations by Jan. 1.

The new landfill, the main portion of which totals 190 acres, is expected to last at least 50 years, and possibly 75 years.

The county already has spent nearly $3-million to construct one "cell" of the new landfill and build an office, a well and a road, said the county's utility manager, Richard Radacky.

For months, the county and the mining company had been divided sharply over who had rights to the sand.

The county said it needed the sand to use as landfill cover; Florida Mining wanted the sand for its cement.

The problem, explained Radacky, was that if the mining company were given rights to the sand, by the year 2001 there would be no more left to use as landfill cover.

That didn't please Commissioner John Richardson.

"The long and short of it is, I've got to have enough dirt for the life of the landfill," Richardson told attorney Joe Mason, who represented Florida Mining at the three-hour meeting. "I believe it was the understanding of this board that we would not be in a sand deficit."

After conferring with Florida Mining president C.M. "Bud" Coleman Jr., Mason came up with a solution.

The commissioners already had concluded that, for the time being, they didn't need to purchase the lower portion of the landfill site, a 120-acre area just south of the main landfill area. The commissioners figured that by the time that area was needed _ around the year 2050 _ new technologies might make landfill disposal obsolete.

Only half of that 120-acre site contains sand suitable for cement, so Florida Mining agreed to let the county take the remaining sand for free.

"I believe we've got the problem solved," Richardson said.