Lehigh Acres potato farm looks to become a mine excavation site

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There’s a lot of agriculture out off State Road 82 in east Lee County, but there’s also a large but spread out neighborhood that is filled with concerned homeowners.

The Troyer Brothers Inc. potato farm is one step closer to becoming a Mine Excavation Planned Development and they’re already taking measures to address the concerns of those who live around them.

Tina Matte, spokeswoman for Troyer Brothers says they’re aware of concerns, “We have already added additional water and capabilities to water down our trucks and roadways to ensure the dust is controlled and managed.”

Homeowners also worry what blasting will do to their homes and traffic along SR 82. They addressed all of that with the Lee County Hearing Examiner’s office Tuesday.

Neighbor Dean Duffin lives a couple miles from the site and he sees this as a positive, “It could be benefits to Lehigh bringing jobs and obviously it might actually increase the value of properties.”

The hearing examiner’s office will take the next 6 to 8 weeks to review the testimony and give their recommendation to Lee County County Commissioners.

From there the commissioners will decide on the fate of this potential mine.

If approved, the conversion of 1,016 acres of farmland wouldn’t happen until 2025 with 781 acred being mined.

Matte says it would take about 35 years to mine the entire property and once complete, they say they will restore the land and donate it to the County.

Anticipated Timeline according to Troyer Brothers

February: Comprehensive Plan Amendment Preparation
April: Submittal of Comprehensive Plan Amendments (CPA) Application
October: Zoning Pre-Application Meeting
December: Submittal of Mining Excavation Planned Development (MEPD) Application

February: Presentation of CPA to Local Planning Agency
April: Presentation of CPA to Board of County Commissioners & Transmittal to State

Summer-Winter: Final Hearings for CPA and MEPD
Mine Development Order Application to Lee County

Initial Site Improvements Begin
Initial Environmental Preservation, Enhancement, and Restoration (703.09 acres)

Mine Operation Permit Application to Lee County

Anticipated Completion of Site Improvements
Active Excavation and Off-site Sale of Material Begins

Post-Mining Restoration (313.34 acres)
1,016.4 acres Open Space Placed in Permanent Conservation

*Timeline source: troyerbrothersmine.com

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