New mine set for Neal Road, expect traffic and pollution, say experts

Writer: Rachel Murphy
Published: Updated:
The site of a crash on Neal Road in Buckingham, Wednesday, February 22, 2023. Credit: Google Maps

Nearly 700 acres of agricultural land have been rezoned for mining and excavation in Punta Gorda.

The proposition was passed by Charlotte County’s commission on Tuesday, May 23. The mine will be used for mineral resource extractions.

Sue Hill, a retired geologist that lives nearby, opposes the mine. 

Hill has attended Charlotte County’s meetings discussing the mine for the past year. “One thing about the commissioners, they have it in the middle of the day that nobody can make it to their meeting unless they’re retired or disabled or a person of means that you can just take time off whenever you like.”

The Charlotte County Commissioners ruled 3-to-2 to approve the rezoning in February. There are already 18 mines in that zip code (33982).

Hill said that the agricultural land will be permanently scarred by the mine, and the land will be unusable for the next 100 years. 

Thomas Poucher is the Budget Director of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. When presented with the proposal he said, “It is proven that agricultural production contributes to the local economy and enhances natural areas within a community. Prematurely converting these lands to other non-agricultural uses results in a permanent loss.”

Hill expressed multiple concerns about the future traffic and excavation. She measured Neal Road and found that it was 20 feet wide, and the mining trucks are 15 feet wide. 

“The dust is going to be harmful, for people like me, and Sam, and his dad, we have problems with breathing — a lot of the people there — the harm from dust is going to be tremendous,” Hill said. “And, of course, they say, ‘Well, we’ll water it down’ but they don’t really care once they get what they want. They don’t care about the health of us, but we’re gonna be living there and breathing that stuff all the time, and there’s gonna be noise and just pollution, all different kinds of pollution.”

WINK News made multiple attempts to contact Charlotte County commissioners who voted on the mine proposition and received no response.

“One of the points I tried to make was that they don’t look at the big picture,” Hill said, “and the big picture being that with all these people living here, how are we going to feed these people? It’s nice to have local farms, but if the local farms are gone, where are we gonna get our food?”

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