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Friday, Feb 27, 2015

Reaction sets in to mining expansion

Published:   |   Updated: April 13, 2014 at 12:18 PM

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BROOKSVILLE - Linda Wisenbaker said it's bad enough living so close to an existing cement plant near her Fort Dade mobile home.

She said vibrations from drilling are so bad at times they shake things up.

"Our pictures come off the wall; we have antiques fall," she said.

Now comes word that Cemex Construction Materials Florida wants to expand operations, adding more than 500 more acres north of State Road 50 and west of Fort Dade Avenue.

That, she said, is unacceptable and neighbors plan to fight the proposal.

Linda said she and her husband, Steve, also worry that chemicals used in the mining process could get in their drinking water.

But Sara Engdahl, director of communications with Cemex, said people need not worry.

"Blasting is an understandable concern from the neighbors and surrounding businesses," Engdahl said. "But blasting would take place at levels that would not cause structural damage and it is strictly enforced by federal and state agencies."

Vibrations emanating from the site will be minimal and below levels that would cause damage to water wells, she said.

Company officials, residents and business owners will meet face to face this week at a public workshop arranged by Cemex. It's the first in what promises to be a long process in getting an amendment to the county's future land use map that would enable the company to expand operations on 573 of the overall 730-acre vacant site along State Road 50.

This would be an extension of the Cemex mining operation north of Fort Dade Avenue. Cemex would transport the aggregate hard rock at this new site to its existing processing center.

Cemex first proposed the expansion in 2011 but the project was placed on hold. Engdahl said the company has worked out some real estate transactions and other details and now can move forward.

Engdahl said the proposal essentially is identical to the one three years ago, and, if approved, mining would begin in 2019.

Three years ago residents showed up at a planning and zoning commission meeting and a subsequent public workshop to express opposition to the project.

Engdahl said the company hopes to put people's minds at ease and assure them every safeguard will be used to ensure wetlands, wildlife and the ecosystem are protected.

If it succeeds in getting the map change, Cemex would have to revise its application and return it to the planning department for review before moving forward to planning and zoning commissioners and the county commission, said Paul Wieczorek, senior county planner.

Then the project, to be done in phases, would have to go before state review agencies before again coming back to Hernando County commissioners.

Susan Frimmel, assistant director of marketing for Bayfront Health Brooksville, said based on documents supplied by Cemex to hospital administrators, there is no reason to oppose the mining expansion.

One chart shows vibrations would measure 0.21 inches per second, which is comparable to the vibration of someone slamming a door. It would be less noticeable, the chart said, than a person hammering a nail.

"Given the vibration level measurements presented to us, it seems the impact to the hospital would be minimal," Frimmel said.

And according to a site map, most of the trucks and the blasting would occur on the backside of the State Road 50 property and away from the hospital, she said.

Cemex previously said it would develop a map that outlines the times it would be blasting on the property so that residents and businesses could prepare.

When mining ceases on the property, Cemex would have to return the property to a condition as close as possible to what it looks like now.

The public inquiry workshop will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Hernando County Enrichment Center, 800 Gary Grubbs Blvd. in Brooksville.

(352) 544-5290

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