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Panel backs mining on Lykes land

Florida Crushed Stone Co. got the backing of the county Planning and Zoning Commission on Monday in the company's renewed effort to mine 1,300 acres of what was once the Lykes family farm.

The company bought the land _ about 1,700 acres on both sides of Citrus Way north of Fort Dade Avenue _ more than two years ago, said Don Lacey of Coastal Engineering Associates Inc., which is working on the proposed expansion in behalf of Florida Crushed Stone.

All but 80 acres of it is now designated as "rural" under the county's comprehensive growth plan. The commission's decision Monday was the first step in getting that designation changed to allow mining.

Florida Crushed Stone had asked that the planning commission recommend to the Hernando County Commission that it be allowed to mine the entire 1,700-acre parcel. But the county Planning Department recommended to the planning commission that several portions be spared from mining, said Jerry Greif, chief planner.

Those included some land that did not hold a substantial amount of lime rock and a buffer around the current Lykes property.

The company also pledged to residents of Brookridge that it would not blast, drill or excavate within 7,500 feet of the subdivision.

Brookridge residents were among those who protested most violently when the company first proposed mining the land about a year and a half ago. Though few residents were on hand at Monday's meeting, the original effort met with adamant opposition.

The company dropped its request in January 1992. That was not directly in response to pressure from the people, but because the company thought that residents had confused the expansion proposal with issues in the proposed mining ordinance.

Lacey also said that the impending commission election had nothing to do with the company's decision to postpone its request.

The time is right now, he said, because the mining ordinance should be law by the time the mine could get final approval to expand onto the former Lykes property.

The second public hearing on the mining ordinance, at which the County Commission is expected to vote on the issue, is scheduled for June 29. The process of getting approval to mine the property will take at least six months, Lacey said.

The County Commission will first decide whether to recommend the change to the comprehensive plan, a decision commissioners will probably make sometime next month, Lacey said. The change must then be approved by the state Department of Community Affairs. Then, it would come back to the County Commission for final approval, probably in November or December.