Lee County votes in favor of changing a map designating mining

Reporter: Taylor Petras
Published: Updated:
Mining decision being made in Lee County

The long-running controversy over proposed changes to mining rules in Lee County is over.

After months of debate, public hearings and Wednesday public comments, the motion carried 3-1 with Commissioner Frank Mann dissenting.

The decision, made Wednesday morning, may end the fight over mining in Lee County, where many have spent more than a year fighting the mines from moving close to their homes.

“This mining does not benefit our community,” Holley Rauenrn said. “The fact that they’re building and building and building in Estero and they’re going to pave more of our paradise is appalling to me.”

The decision related to ‘Map 14″, which is a step in the mining approval process that the county wants to drop. The worry is that the elimination of “Map 14” makes it easier for mines to get approved and can cause several problems.

Rauenrn was one of the dozens who addressed commissioners. She, along with many others, said this would make it easier for mining companies to operate in southern Lee County. It will only make our water quality crisis worse.

“Water is our most valuable asset,” Rauenrn said. “It’s our most important asset. It is the bloodline for Southwest Florida.”

But several new state reviews show different results. “Map 14” designates where mining is allowed to occur, and as of Wednesday morning commissioners believe the language is vague and leaves it open to legal challenges.

After a review of the changes, state agencies like the Department of Environmental Protection and South Florida Water Management, said the proposed amendments would not harm water quality. Nor on other factors, including surface water flows, groundwater levels and transportation networks.

Some environmental groups worry the changes will open up more areas for where mines can be approved.

“Before you go ahead and blow up the earth,” said Meredith Budd, of Florida Wildlife Federation, “make sure the county has an actual need for the lime-rock before you move forward with such an intrusive land use.”

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