BROOKSVILLE — A Cemex official said he has four months to convince residents their fears of expanding mining operations along State Road 50 and Fort Dade Avenue are groundless.
But a member of Neighbors Against Mining questioned a decision to delay presenting the proposal to county commissioners until Dec. 9, after the November general election.
Two seats on the county commission are up for grabs: District 2 where Wayne Dukes is facing opposition from Jimmy Lodato and Brian Moore and District 4 where Dave Russell is stepping down and Jeff Holcomb, Daniel Oliver, Laurie Pizzo and H. David Werder are running.
“I think it is convenient that it happens after the election, with the potential hope from Cemex that the full-tilt opposition of this will wane,” said DeeVon Quirolo, with Neighbors Against Mining.
The expansion proposal was slated to go before the county commission Aug. 12. But Cemex this week asked for the postponement.
The action comes one week after planning and zoning board members shot down Cemex’s request to amend the county’s future land use map on a 730-acre tract along SR 50 and Fort Dade Avenue.
County commissioners will formally vote on the postponement Aug. 12.
Planning and zoning commissioners determined that the expansion was inconsistent with the comprehensive plan. When asked how Cemex plans to change the county commissioners’ minds on that issue, James Morris, manager of aggregate resources with Cemex, said “no comment.”
In a letter submitted to the county, Cemex said the delay will allow the company to better address citizen concerns brought up at the planning and zoning meeting last week. Cemex also plans to complete additional topographical and survey work.
Morris said the company plans a computer-generated simulation of what a motorist would see out the window while traveling down State Road 50 and Fort Dade Avenue, where the mining will take place.
Morris said he hopes that will put to rest any fears that it will be a treeless terrain. Rather he said, people will not see any evidence of mining because it will take place beyond the tree line and proposed berm.
Morris said the company will also stress that, because of new technology, people will not be affected by any blasting.
“It just won’t happen,” Morris said.
Quirolo said that won’t be enough to change her mind.
“I think they want to dazzle us with that technology but we still have some serious issues that will not be effected by (their presentation),” she said.
Quirolo said NAM will be ready in four months to renew its fight. Residents in the affected area are already tired of putting up with noise from the existing Cemex plant off Cobb Road “and don’t want anymore,” she said.
“My concerns are the same that they always have been,” she said. “Many people share them and I don’t believe they’re going away.”
County Commission Chairman Wayne Dukes said the postponement makes sense from the company’s standpoint.
“They’re trying to put their best foot forward and I can’t blame them for that,” Dukes said.