The Lee County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to deny the mine zoning application presented by Resource Conservation Holdings LLC (RCH), overturning the recommendation for approval of the Hearing Examiner on the case.
The Board responded unequivocally to the testimony of Lee County staff and many Estero residents who had previously testified before the Hearing Examiner. In addition about 150 urban and rural Estero residents showed their support by attending the six hour hearing.
As in its initial report Lee County staff recommended denial of the zoning change, detailing the many ways that the Hearing Examiner had erred by failing to recognize how the development proposal would not meet local, state and federal air, water and noise pollution standards; would have negative impacts upon the County’s drinking water supplies; how the development would negatively impact the surrounding community with safety, noise and pollution caused by a big increase in truck traffic; ignored evidence of wildlife habitat on the site, and the fact that there is no need or more mines above those already approved in order to satisfy the regional market demand for limerock construction products.
The RCH property is located on Corkscrew Road, approximately 6 1/2 miles east of I-75. It is adjacent to two wetland mitigation banks which are also primary foraging habitat for wood storks, the Flint Penn flow way, Lee County well fields and 1,000 feet away from several homes.
RCH was proposing to mine 400 acres of their 1,365 acres of land to a depth of 110 feet for decades to come. Their plans also included a 180-foot tall drag line, a cement plant, an asphalt plant and an 85-foot tall rock crushing building. They predicted it would require 2,400 dump truck round trips daily to transport the product produced by this mine, or a truck trip every 15 seconds during peak hours. These trucks would be traveling on Corkscrew Road and other Estero roadways.
The application to mine this property was made prior to the County’s 2008 mining moratorium and the state’s approval of the new DR/GR Comprehensives Plan that limits future Lee County limerock mining to the Alico Road corridor until 2030.
A Lee County Circuit Judge determined the new rules did not apply to this mine, which led the RCH application being subject to 22 days of testimony before a Hearing Examiner last year.
Lee County mines have supplied 80% of the total demand for limerock products used by the seven southwest Florida counties, from Sarasota County down to Collier County for the last 25 years. The mines in the Alico Road Future Limerock Overlay corridor can continue to supply 80% of these same areas’ demand for these products through 2030 without adding any new mines elsewhere in the DR/GR.