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County sues company, says its mine has grown too big

(ran PC edition)

A clay mine that was once 5 acres has ballooned to 16 acres and requires a permit, the county says.

Pasco County sued a clay mine operator Friday, alleging that his east Pasco pit has tripled in size without a permit.

The county sued Glenn and Helen Metcalf and their Port Richey-based company, G.E. Metcalf & Co., claiming the clay mine they operate north of State Road 52, near the James Irvin Education Center, has grown to nearly 16 acres since November.

Glenn Metcalf said Monday that his operation has been running since 1970 _ before county ordinances limiting such mines were enacted _ and is therefore grandfathered. The county claims the grandfather exemption isn't enough when the mine has grown from less than five acres to 16 acres without permitting.

"The continued expansion poses a threat to public health, welfare and safety of adjacent landowners," the county's suit claims.

Metcalf said he has sold red clay dirt for years and bought the land for that purpose. His clay is used in ballfields throughout south and central Florida, he said.

Metcalf said the county is only demanding that he apply for a permit so it can charge him up to $2,000 per acre of mining. In all, Metcalf said he holds about 85 acres, but most of it has not been mined.

"They're trying to get into my pocket," he said. "I'll take this all the way to the Supreme Court, if I have to."

The county's suit, filed in Circuit Court, asks a judge to stop the mining temporarily until permits are granted.

Metcalf said he plans to countersue the county.