Mining foes gear up

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Hearing is Monday

By Lou Elliott Jones

An application for a permit for a major limerock mining operation close to the intersection of U.S. Highway 41 and County Road 322 in Williston is expected to provide controversy at the May meeting of the Levy County Planning Board.

It is the planning board’s first meeting in several months as applications for permits and special exceptions plummeted with the national economy. The board meets at 6:30 p.m. Monday at the Levy County Courthouse on Court Street in Bronson.

Johannes Vanderwey, who owns 47.98 acres, of the 88.18 acres included in the project site, has applied for conditional approval of a special exception use permit to do major mining on 68.8 acres for the next 20 years.

Dr. Gary Moss, who owns two homes within a quarter mile of the proposed mining operation, said opposition is mounting to it.

“This is not the most appropriate, suitable business to have. It’s a populated area and it will have a detrimental effect throughout the area.”

He said his wife, Dr. Traudi Miller-Moss, has been visiting neighbors within a half mile of their home and all are opposed to the mining operation.

A petition and letters opposing the operation will be presented at Monday’s Planning Board meeting.

“Everybody so far is unanimously outraged,” Moss said. “They want to do this without any sort of consequences to the surrounding areas or the neighbors.

“This is a really nice pastoral area with a lot of horse farms. A lot of people are retired and when they moved there they anticipated having the protections of the agricultural/residential zoning,” he said.

“Having this is not what we anticipated,” he said.

The operation will include blasting to crack and loosen the rock, crushing to reduce its size, washing at the site and transportation from the site on a nearby rail and by truck. About 80 percent will go by rail with loading into the rail cars occurring at a rail spur to be built by Vanderwey Limerock Mine. The remaining 20 percent will leave the site by truck.

That will generate truck traffic of 35 truck trips per day being hauled on CR 322 and on U.S. 41. With the mining operation employing 25 people, it is estimated to generate 76 car trips on CR322. While the application says CR 322 is adequate to handle the traffic, the staff is contacting the road department to see if CR322 can handle the heavy truck loads.

The staff report to the planning board says 10-foot high earthen berms will be built along 100-foot buffer to dampen any noise and pine trees will be planted to help eliminate noise, dust and vibration.

One plus pointed out in the application is that the resulting pit would create a lake with a depth of 80 feet that can help with water storage during a 100-year storm event. And the staff report notes the location is within the 100-year flood plain for the Suwannee River.

There is a cemetery on the property that covers 1.12 acres and access to it will be provided within a 60 foot easement that currently exists at the Flying B Ranchettes subdivision.

The mining operation would be new as no prior major mining, nor any state or federal permits exist for the property, according to the staff report. The staff is recommending the operation be required to have a special exception and an excavation and fill permit.

In addition, several conditions are recommended by the staff to be attached to an approved permit, including:

Posting of a $137,600 performance bond.

Requiring the operator be responsible for any damages to CR 322 caused by the operation.

No mining is to begin until all state and federal mining and environmental permits are issued and provided to the county Development Department.

Hours of operation be limited to 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and cannot be done on nine specified holidays.

Rail car delivery and pick up be coordinated so as not to disturb the “serenity” of nearby neighborhoods.

The company provides a recorded easement to the Davis Family Cemetery.