Advertisement
  1. News
  2. /
  3. Hernando

Hernando County Commission says yes to more Cemex mining

After years of controversy, commissioners okay a 20-year mining lease, expanding the Cemex lime rock mine east of Brooksville
Heavy equipment works at the Cemex Construction Materials site in Brooksville. Soon the company will be expanding to new areas south of Fort Dade Avenue to continue lime rock mining activities. Times file
Heavy equipment works at the Cemex Construction Materials site in Brooksville. Soon the company will be expanding to new areas south of Fort Dade Avenue to continue lime rock mining activities. Times file
Published Sep. 11

BROOKSVILLE — The most controversial local development project in years — expansion of the Cemex Construction Materials Florida lime rock mine onto more than 500 acres of land designated for agricultural uses — got its final rezoning approval this week.

County commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to rezone the property, which is west of Cobb Road and north of Cortez Boulevard. They also agreed to vacate the road that bisects the mining area known as the Lykes Cutoff and agreed to have Cemex provide land for a new road connecting California Street north of Cortez to Fort Dade Avenue.

The commission also approved a 100-acre site on other mine-owned property as a conservation easement to mitigate the loss of wildlife habitat in the new mining area.

The applicants for the rezoning of the 573.5 acres were Old Spring Hill, LLC, which owns the property, and Cemex. Other adjacent landowners involved in the swap were Spring Hill Land Trust, BMM Land Trust and BK Land Trust.

Owners of the mining properties sought a 20-year lease with plans to develop the property after that into a residential community. The land fronting Cortez Boulevard will be used for commercial development, under the plan.

The Cemex expansion met with years of organized opposition from area residents. Through a series of public meetings, the Neighbors Against Mining group raised concerns about: the incompatibility of mining with the adjacent residential neighborhood; water quality damage; destruction of the tree canopy along Fort Dade Avenue; blasting damage to homes; water drainage issues; wildlife and environmental destruction; disruption at the nearby Bayfront Health Brooksville hospital; and harm to the historic Spring Hill Cemetery.

Critics pointed out that the landowners included some of the county’s most influential business people, including retired mining executive Tommy Bronson, real estate broker Robert Buckner, banker Jim Kimbrough and lawyer Joe Mason.

Each of the four sitting elected county commissioners have received multiple campaign contributions from Cemex and its consultants. Commissioner John Mitten has not faced an election because he is a governor appointee.

Rresidents raised money from the community to hire lawyers and expert witnesses on everything from blasting to hydrology. They came to meetings in force.

Commissioners have argued that Cemex is the county’s top taxpayer and that it creates important jobs for the community. Mining officials have said repeatedly that this expansion will not create new jobs, but will extend existing jobs. Cemex official James Morris has estimated the economic impact of the new mining expansion at $50 million for its 20-year life.

The mining application went through several cycles, starting with a proposed change in land use from residential to mining in the county’s comprehensive plan. The proposal was first heard in 2011, but after a meeting with residents who opposed it, the effort stalled.

When the idea resurfaced in 2014, county Planning Commission members recommended denial. County commissioners were in favor, but agreed to consider an economic impact study of the proposal.

In 2015, Cemex withdrew its application when two county commissioners opposed the idea. At that time, the county required a super majority vote to change the comprehensive plan, which meant four of the five had to agree to the change. Since then, the County Commission has repealed the super majority vote requirement.

Commissioners approved the change to the comprehensive plan unanimously last year, but the Neighbors Against Mining filed a formal administrative challenge. In May, an administrative law judge ruled in favor of Cemex, setting the stage for final approval.

There were still opponents, but they did not turn out on Tuesday.

A co-founder of the opposition group, unable to make Tuesday’s hearing, wrote a two-page letter to the county explaining her opposition to the mining expansion. Cynthia Dietrich said she is a close neighbor and expects the quiet enjoyment of her home to be destroyed over the next 20 years of blasting, crushing equipment, dust, truck traffic and water well impacts

"The citizens of Hernando County are once again asking the county to deliver a measure of respect for our property rights and honor the spirit of regulations governing protection of our environment in this matter,'' Dietrich wrote.

Commissioner Wayne Dukes, who has supported the expansion since the beginning, said he wanted to be the one to make the motion to approve it.

"I’m glad it’s over,'' he said.

"I’m glad we are to this point,'' said Commissioner Steve Champion. "Cemex is a great partner to the county.''








ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. More than 1,300 summer and fall graduates were eligible to participate in the morning or afternoon commencement ceremonies Dec. 11 at the Pasco-Hernando State College New Port Richey campus. Approximately 345 degrees and certificates were conferred. [MICHELE MILLER  |  Times]
    Two ceremonies were held at the New Port Richey campus.
  2. Rocky, Sally Mae, Marsali and Paisley are available for adoption at area shelters. [Times]
    Shelter pet offerings throughout Tampa Bay
  3. At Adventures in Music, administrator Rich Holley talks of the studio's performance based lessons that train students, young and old, to make music together. [BETH N. GRAY  |  Special to the Times]
    New studio offers private lessons and group sessions.
  4. The Sears in Brooksville, as shown in this captured image from Google Maps, will close next year. [Google]
    The store’s parent company had already announced the area’s last Kmart in Pinellas also is closing.
  5. Pinellas County Commission chairwoman Karen Seel said a Tampa economic development group's recent decision to put "Tampa Bay" into its name "does great harm to the progress we have made on regional collaboration."
    But in Tampa, the chief executive officer of the nonprofit, government-supported economic development group is giving no sign of backing off the new name.
  6. Dan Short, second from right, owner of Dan-Lo Jewelers,  speaks with Hernando County Sheriff's detective Anthony Belmonte, far right, during a news conference Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019 in Brooksville. The Sheriff's Office announced that a trio of jewelry store burglars were arrested after robbing between $16 million and $18 million from places around Florida. [ZACK SAMPSON  |  Times]
    The trio targeted jewelry stores, making off with as much as $18 million, authorities say. They were finally arrested in Chicago.
  7. The May-Stringer House, home of the Hernando Historical Museum in Brooksville, has a reputation as haunted. Now, those who run the museum want to learn whether there's a forgotten cemetery on the property, too. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  TImes]
    More than 50 enslaved people plus the family that held them might be buried at the plantation-era Heritage Museum in Brooksville.
  8. Hernando County Government Center
    The proposal would place dense residential development in an area that is still rural, county planners say.
  9. The new Maydell Drive Bridge will be a multi-use bridge to cater to cars, bicyclists and pedestrians with travel lanes, 8-foot shoulders, and a barrier-separated 5' sidewalk & 10' trail. [Hillsborough County]
    Hillsborough County closed the bridge in December 2015 after an independent engineering study found it was structurally unsound.
  10. Kayakers line up at the boat launch at Weeki Fresh Water Adventures, a kayak and stand-up paddle board rental facility in Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. [MICHELE MILLER  |  Michele Miller]
    Study recommends limiting visitors and where they are allowed to help prevent future damage.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement