Mining interests consider historic Corkscrew
community guilty of "residential encroachment"
The Lee County Executive Regulatory Oversight Committee met on May
14th to consider, in part, proposed changes to the Lee County Land
Development Code relating to rock mining.
Greg Stuart, urban planning consultant, along with Beverly Grady,
Fort Myers Land Use Attorney, both representing Westwind Corkscrew
Mine, proposed changes to a "strategic mining" map that would add 3800
acres to more than 21,000 already proposed.
In addition to proposing additional mining acreage, Stuart
labeled rural residents of the historic Corkscrew Community a threat
to a valuable resource (limerock deposits) through "unwarranted
residential encroachment". The
label was applied by Stuart, despite the fact that acreage proposed
falls entirely within the Density Reduction Groundwater Recharge (DRGR) areas
which limit residential density to one unit per 10 acres.
Stuart further recommended that residential property transactions
within 1 mile of potential mining areas require affidavits
acknowledging mining and blasting activities. He also suggests
that residential properties affected by mining activities be rezoned RPD
to require notifications and buffering - essentially placing the
regulatory encumbrance upon established
Residents are scheduled to meet with Lee Community Development
Staff on May 22nd to offer comments and make recommendations
regarding the strategic mining plan and changes to the Land
Included below are Stuart's comments and recommendations to
Mary Gibbs, Director of the
Lee County Department of
STUART AND ASSOCIATES
Planning & Design Services
Date: May 9, 2003
To: Mary Gibbs, Director
From: Greg Stuart, AICP
RE: Draft LDC Excavation Rules
It was a pleasure speaking with you earlier this week regarding the draft
Mining LDC changes. As you know, I am representing the Westwind Corkscrew Mine
with regard to ongoing IPD Amendments. But also I know that you are aware, that
for over the past ten years I have had a keen interest in preserving the
integrity of DRGR lands and Rural lands within the context of sound regional
planning. Thus, in disclosing these interests I would like to offer my formal
comments regarding the LDC Mine Amendments.
From a broad perspective Staff is to be applauded for identifying the need to
protect important mineral resources. The Potential Mining Area Map is a sound
first step to implement the goal of protecting strategic mineral resources. To
that end in the 2002 Fall Beverly Grady and myself discussed this issue with
Paul O'Connor and planning staff. During that meeting we presented and gave to
staff our mapping analysis of SE Lee County. Findings from the Lee County DRGR
mapping analysis more or less coincided with Staff potential mining area
recommendations. For your convenience and under separate cover we will be
submitting to your office the final SE Lee County Mapping Analysis. The .major
difference in Staff recommendations from ours is that we suggest the inclusion
of the east half of Section 23 and Section 24 (T46S, R27E) along east Corkscrew
Road next to the Collier County boundary. These two sections are currently
omitted from the Draft Map. It is important to note that these two areas are
characterized by an absence of adjoining residential properties, are relatively
isolated and separated from all rural residential areas, are completely distant
and separated from all urban residential uses, are existing agricultural
properties with no environmental constraints, and have other attributes that
advance the ability for sound mining practices. Consequently, we respectfully
request that the Potential Mining Map be proactive in its planning vision and
include these two areas.
Before I present specific comments and recommendations to the Draft LDC rule,
it is important to note that the 30 September 02 Strategic Mining Report stated
that there are only a few areas where limerock deposits meet FDOT
specifications. On page 3 the report further stated that these deposits "are a
valuable resource to the County and surrounding areas". Given that context I
find it troubling that Staff has completely ignored the main threat to these
resources. This main threat is the unwarranted residential encroachment and
urbanization of Rural and DRGR areas.
Given the rapid rate of Lee and Collier
County growth and urbanization it cannot be questioned that residential encroachment into these identified
strategic mining areas present significant current and long-range regional
economic and land use problems. Yet, the Draft LDC Mine rule has not made any
attempt to address this issue. It is inconsistent that the County has as an
objective the protection of these important regional resources yet the
regulatory burden is being solely placed on mining. This burden is being
compounded by proposed new rules such as 34-1674(5) and 34-161(2)(b) that in
fact make mining operations more vulnerable to the problem of increased
urbanization and residential development in DRGR and Rural areas.
I recognize the difficulty in limiting residential development within in
these strategic mining areas in attempting to segregate residential uses from
mining activities. However, other new rules need to be put in place that, at a
minimum, mandate proper notification of residences in areas proximate to the
identified preferred mining areas. This approach reflects sound planning
practices given the regional resource issues involved along with general
fairness principles. Consequently, I respectfully recommend that as part of this
regulatory, process, Staff draft rules to require residential development and
home building notification for any project up to one mile from the identified
Potential Mining Map. Residential home building and subdividing activities
should have mandatory notification requirements that they are locating within
areas subject to mine blasting, industrial use truck traffic, etc. These draft
rules should be presented to the BOCC for their input and direction along with
subsequent action. Some regulatory concepts are as follows-
- Affidavits to be submitted as part of residential home permitting that
acknowledges that, the permitting, home owner is aware of proximate mining and
- Mining notification language needs to run with the land in recorded
residential subdivisions within one mile of the identified mining areas; and
- All proposed residential subdivisions within one mile of the identified
Potential Mining areas are required to be rezoned to RPD to allow for
appropriate notification provisions, buffering and the like.
My specific comments and regulatory suggestions are as follows-
||Purpose of subdivision.
||The first paragraph and first sentence, "mining operations are inherently
incompatible", is too absolute and needs clarification. The draft enabling
language exposes bona fide mining operations to future residential compatibility
problems by not clearly identifying that well located mines are not inherently
incompatible, For example, one need only to look at long standing west Pine
Island Road mining and processing operations that adjoin the Royal Tee Country
Club and other residential areas. These operations have not discouraged Bonita
Bay Development Company from acquiring hundreds of acres for future residential
development that are within immediate proximity of mining and processing
operations. The inherently incompatible language is just not necessarily true.
"The County finds that mining operations are
inherently incompatible with most
urban uses and clustered rural residential uses that are
located within defined neighborhoods".
||General Policies for approval.
Paragraph 5 may present numerous financial, operational and legal problems
for bona fide mining Operations. I can think of no legitimate reason for making
it a requirement that a long duration mining operation be required to go through
additional public hearing processes after they have been zoned, permitted and
operating for years. This is especially true if the mine is within the
identified Potential Mining Area. It is logical to expect that most changes
within that time frame will be more residential development and that most new
residents will turn out in protest, seeking to shut down the operation through
this new public hearing process. The mining operation cap completely hinders the
goal of protecting these strategic resources and is completely counter
productive. In fact it can be argued that the new rule will encourage
Paragraph Five should be deleted.
- Sec. 34-1675. Paragraph(b)3.c:
| Applications for general mining permit.
|An Open Space Design Plan is a new regulatory requirement. The-new rule may
be an attempt to customize mine layouts to protect trees, etc. The new rule does
not reflect mine operational realities that more or less preclude customized
designs based upon arbitrary staff desires to preserve a cluster of trees, etc.
This is especially true for mines identified within the Potential Mining Area.
There appears to be no nexus of the need to protect strategic mining resources
with the attempt at over-regulation.
||Either delete sub-paragraph C in its entirety or revise paragraph C as
follow: "A survey and FLUCCS map to identify existing native plant communities
and trees along with important adjoining preserve areas".
- Sec. 34-1675.
Paragraph (7)(f & h):
|Application for general mining permit.
For obvious reasons "adverse" impacts needs to be clearly defined.
||Insert the following sentence throughout the draft regulation when the new
rule calls out "No Adverse Impacts" for surface and subsurface environmental issues--"
The issuance of appropriate State Water Management
District and DEP mining and environmental resource permits will demonstrate
compliance with the no adverse impact requirement.”
||Application for a mining
||The "'All onsite and offsite improvements" language is overly broad and needs
For obvious reasons, restoration activities and other, post-mine requirements
need to be exempt. More clarification is needed.
||Site Requirements General
|The "Avoid adverse effects" standard is to broad and needs to be defined. This is so in that the perception of adverse effects clearly may be different from person to person.
|Examine the possibility of
inserting standardized measurements for adverse impacts such as
definable-reduction in agricultural yields, declining residential property
values, a reduction and/or degradation of conservation areas, and definable
nuisances stemming from noise, dust, lighting and order. For the identified
Potential Mining Areas, the standard should be "Avoid
significant adverse effects".
Site Requirements Setbacks
|The "500-ft radial setback from existing and proposed well sites" standard is
new and may serve to indirectly encourage residential encroachment. This is so
in that for planned future mine phases new homes may be developed that may
restrict the mines phasing plan due to the location of residential potable
wells. This new standard does not seem fair in that the regulatory encumbrance
is being placed on the long standing mine operation. This is especially germane
given the rules "proposed well sites" language.
||New exemption language needs to be inserted so as to place the setback
requirement on new residential homes that choose to locate around existing bona
fide mining operations. The "proposed well sites" language needs to be deleted.
The new rule should read -"A 500-ft. radial setback is required for new mines
from proposed well sites. New residential potable wells should be setback when
ever feasible 500-ft. from existing mines and identified Potential Mining
2180 West First Street, Suite #503 - Fort Myers, FL 33901
Voice (239) 337-7176 - FAX (239) 337-2496 -
GS/chproject02.007/5 May03 LDCminingrulechangememo
CC: Beverly Grady