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2007 Archive:

Nov 5 2007 Charlotte County: Dirt mines have already hurt Shell Creek, expert says - An expert on how impacts to aquatic resources hurt wildlife habitats testified Friday that a series of dirt mines planned for the Washington Loop Road area will draw down the water table for several miles, and that will drain wetlands and kill native trees. Sun-Herald 11/03/07


Oct 23 2007 BOCC approves 2nd public hearing on mine rezoning moratorium - Comments from the Board were in support of adopting the moratorium as drafted in the resolution. The County Attorney indicated that the moratorium stands on strong legal ground. The Board voted to forward the proposed ordinance without changes to the second public hearing on Nov. 13. There was also some discussion about eliminating the exemption language for the Fountains DRI – meaning the 1 year moratorium may apply to them as well.

Strategic Aggregates Review Task Force - Committee Meeting Notice - The Strategic Aggregates Review Task Force, recently formed by the Florida Legislature under CS/HB 985, will soon hold the first in a series of public meetings to discuss improvements in policy and public investment as it relates to the availability of construction aggregate materials and related mining/land use practices in the State of Florida. The first meeting, which will be held in Tampa, will include discussions of task force organization, rules of procedure, stakeholder perspectives and a tour.

Discussions will begin at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 4, 2007 and conclude at 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, December 6, 2007. Details regarding the exact meeting location will be made available as soon as they are finalized.

The following dates have been chosen for future task force meetings:

December 18-20, 2007 - Miami/Fort Lauderdale
January 15-17, 2008 - Jacksonville
January 29-31, 2008 - Tallahassee

Miami-Dade: Rock-mining operation approved - A 589-acre rock mining operation was approved by the Florida City Commission Tuesday night, despite pleas from residents in neighboring Homestead and from the superintendent of Biscayne National Park to deny the project. Miami Herald - 10/23/07


Oct 17 2007 Mining consultant suggests that mines sites provide water storage. Hydroecologist disagrees - Reclaimed phosphate mine sites should be used to store water that could be used to maintain the Peace River's flow during dry spells or boost drinking water supplies, according to Peter J. Schreuder, a water resource consultant for the mining industry. Dr. Sydney Bacchus, a professional hydroecologist who recently testified in the Estero Group mining case, called Schreuder's theories examples of a "fantasy world." Charlotte Sun - 10/14/07

Mining compact stirring up dust - Sarasota, Charlotte and Lee counties, along with the regional water authority, are about to make a tough decision - whether to continue to challenge mining projects deemed to be damaging to water resources, or create a compact with the mining company now, to set standards that protect watersheds and avoids costly court battles. Bradenton Herald - 10/15/07

Editorial: Phosphate settlement talks make no sense - Just when I thought public outrage had made us all safe from the Charlotte County Commission, they have now found a new way to give the store away. Charlotte Sun - 10/16/07


Oct 16 2007 Governor Crist names five to the Strategic Aggregates Review Task Force - Richard Grosso is a strong advocate for growth management & conservation issues. Halley, Missimer, and Slade represent the mining industry. Wiggins position is unknown at this time.

Senator Mike Bennett weighs in on the Lee Mining Moratorium - Senator Bennett is a land developer based in Bradenton who represents portions of northern Lee County. He was featured in a 2006 investigative report by the Herald Tribune.

Legislative Delegation Meeting & Public Hearing - Meeting is set for Nov. 29, 2007, 1PM-5PM, Room S-117 at Edison College. We are making plans to make a presentation related to anticipated legislation that would remove local authority over land use issues related to mining.

Panthers using Corkscrew Wildlife Crossing - Link to photo of tracks found in September. Work on fence improvements are just about complete.

Hearing on mine finally over - A hearing that could help decide the future of environmentally sensitive land east of Interstate 75 in Lee County has finally ended. News-Press - 10/16/07


Sep 19 2007

Encouraging news for Corkscrew Neighbors & Friends - Yesterday, the Lee BOCC voted 5-0 to adopt a one year moratorium on mine rezoning applications in the southeast DR/GR. <MORE>>

Rock-mining forces turn out to protest proposed restrictions - Rock miners hauled in the heavy equipment Tuesday night -- hundreds of sign-waving quarry workers, dozens of representatives from trucking, rail and contracting companies, even horn-blowing cement trucks -- to urge federal regulators to support more digging at the edge of the Everglades. Miami Herald - 09/19/07


Sep 14 2007 Engineers see little harm in NW Dade rock mining -
Federal regulators proposed tweaks to plans for expanded rock mining in Northwest Miami-Dade but found no serious health or environmental risks. Miami Herald 09/14/07
  • 2007 Draft SEIS Released On August 17, 2007, the 2007 Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on Rock Mining in the Lake Belt Region of Miami-Dade County, Florida was made available to the public for review.


Sep 13 2007 Estero Group Mine Hearing Continues - could go 14 days - County staff presentations and the remainder of testimony by the public concluded on Friday September 7th. The hearing continued with applicant rebuttal on Sept. 11th & 12th. Rebuttal witnesses called by the applicant to testify included Univ. of Ga. Hydrologist Todd Rassmussen, and groundwater modeler Louis Motz. They also will be calling on their own planners & engineers: RaeAnn Boylan, Lloyd Horvath, Wayne Arnold, and Jim Banks.

The hearing is scheduled to continue on September 14th at 9AM, Sept 18th at 11am, September 27th at 11am, and October 9th at @ 9am. There will be no more opportunity for public testimony until the matter is considered by the BOCC in the coming months.


Sep 11 2007 Good News - DR/GR Action Plan - At this morning’s regular meeting, the BOCC approved the DR/GR Action Plan submitted by staff and directed them to move forward with the 14 points of the plan, including the hiring of an outside consultant for the master planning effort. County planning staff will begin preparing RFP’s for the consultant contract which will be financed through the Unincorporated Lee County MSTE Fund. Chairman Janes suggested that the county look outside the “hometown” crowd when sourcing the consultant for the master planning effort.

Staff will also move forward immediately with the task of establishing a Steering Committee with “balanced representation” among DRGR stakeholders. It’s not clear what staff has in mind specifically in this regard, but it’s important and bears watching,

The Board had some specific discussions about action items 12: “Limit comprehensive plan amendments”, and 13: ”Limit rezoning” while this review is underway. They appeared ready to adopt a moratorium on any new Comp Plan amendments while the review is pending, however, they were reluctant to limit or eliminate rezoning applications during this same period. In general, recent Comp Plan amendments in the SE Lee DRGR have dealt with increased housing density for large residential developments (i.e., The Fountains), whereas rezoning has generally meant mining. The Board directed staff to come back to the BOCC at next Tuesday's M&P meeting with recommendations on item 13.

"Unfortunately, the Board’s reluctance to limit rezoning will most likely mean that East Estero residents will continue to bear the stress and financial burden of opposing each of the five pending mining applications individually, at least until the master planning effort is completed. You might consider contacting Board members to let them know how this ongoing burden will affect you.

Thanks to the support and leadership of our friends in Estero (ECCL) as well as the environmental community over the past year, we’re beginning to make some real progress toward improved planning for our rural community. We’ll be closely monitoring this process and looking for opportunities for your direct participation. We’ll keep you posted."

- K. Hill


Sep 4 2007 Update: Estero Group Mine Hearing - Cross examination of Dr. Sydney Bacchus concluded this afternoon - much earlier than expected.

There is one remaining member of county staff yet to testify, and he’s scheduled to do that first thing tomorrow. The Hearing Examiner suggested that additional members of the public who wish to testify will have opportunity to do so beginning tomorrow (Wednesday) before lunch, or later in the day as needed.


Aug 31 2007 Estero Group Hearing to resume September 4th - The Hearing Examiner held an "attorney-only" meeting today to discuss expectations for the upcoming hearings. Beverly Grady, attorney for the applicant indicated that her cross-examination of Dr. Sydney Bacchus would begin Tuesday morning and last at least the entire day.

Therefore it's likely that the best opportunity for public testimony won't happen before the afternoon of Wednesday, Sept. 5th.


Aug 30 2007

BOCC to consider DRGR Action Plan - At the special DRGR Issues Workshop on August 9th, the Commission directed staff to prepare additional information for a proactive planning effort to address the DRGR land use and mining issues. The Action Plan provides background and lists 14 proposed action steps, including the hiring of a consultant. The DRGR Action Plan will be considered by the Board at their regular public meeting on Sept. 11, which begins at 9:30 AM, at the Board meeting room, 2nd floor, County Courthouse, 2120 Main Street. Public comment is welcome and encouraged.

Westwind Corkscrew Mine Pollution Compliance - The Lee County Division of Natural Resources conducted a recent follow-up inspection of the Westwind Corkscrew Mine and documented continued pollution compliance problems on their property as well adjacent property belonging to Estero Group LLC (which doesn't even have a permit). It appears the compliance issues at Westwind have been going on since at least 2005, and are in violation of their mining operations permit and possibly their zoning approvals. Read the full report - including pictures disclosing contamination and questionable activities.

It's important to note that the operators of Westwind, would also operate the proposed Estero Group Mine if it's approved.

The County Attorney's Office has recommended that Lee DCD staff prepare a formal notice of violation and consider the full range of enforcement options available.


Aug 29 2007

Is Lee County ignoring potential contamination of the public water supply? Expert contends that Lee County's Proposed Wellfield Protection Ordinance is based on flawed modeling that fails to simulate the effects of mine pits or other water bodies. This failure to account for the impacts of mining activities increases the potential for contamination of the public water supply.

Last year hydrologist Greg Rawl notified two County Department Heads seeking better modeling of mining pits near wellfields. (Includes aerial photos of possible contamination plume in a mine pit directly upstream of the Corkscrew Public Wellfield):

The issues raised by Mr. Rawl are essentially the same cited by US Circuit Court Judge William Hoeveler in his recent ruling against mining in the Miami-Dade Lake-Belt.

Public hearings for the Wellfield Protection Ordinance before the Lee County BOCC are scheduled for 5:05 PM, Sept. 11th and Sept. 25th at the County Courthouse.


Aug 28 2007


Rock and a Hard Place - Threats to state's construction supply of limestone and other "aggregate" material will have a lot to say about building costs in the state. - Article by Cynthia Barnett - Florida Trend - 9/1/2007

Charlotte County: D'Aprile calls for dirt mine moratorium - Charlotte County Commissioner Tom D'Aprile called for a moratorium on approving any more dirt mines until the impacts of two mines proposed for the Washington Loop Road area can be studied. Greg Martin - Sun-Herald.com 08/15/07

Miami-Dade mining ruling could affect cost of Collier, Lee projects - A federal court decision involving rock mining in Miami-Dade County could end up increasing the cost of road construction in Collier and Lee counties. Larry Hannan - Naples Daily News - 08/07/07


Aug 9, 2007 Lee staff to draft DR/GR action plan - At today's DR/GR & Mining Issues workshop, the BOCC directed Wayne Daltry & Mary Gibbs to draft a DR/GR action plan and return to the Board in 3-4 weeks. The action plan will incorporate input from the stakeholder meetings and subsequent staff recommendations. Notes of workshop comments from Commissioners & staff.

$30,000 grant will help in rural planning efforts -
Firm hired to study development options. The Estero Community Improvement Foundation has received a $30,000 grant to examine planning alternatives for Lee County’s environmentally sensitive rural areas east of Interstate 75. Article by Denise Scott - News-Press 8/02/07

U.S. Sugar wants to use 'Glades land for mining 7,000 acres - Sugar cane growers propose turning 7,000 acres of their fields into a massive rock mine in western Palm Beach County, despite efforts to put the brakes on mining in the Everglades Agricultural Area.


Aug 8, 2007 Judge Critical of Rock-Mining Oversight - In a ruling echoing years of complaints from environmentalists, Judge lays out litany of concerns about rock mining, regulation. Article by Curtis Morgan, Miami Herald 07/30/07

Lee County Commissioners will hold workshop on DR/GR & Mining issues - The workshop will be held tomorrow, Aug. 9, 2007 at 9 a.m. in Commission Chambers. The BOCC will consider input gathered at the recent DR/GR Stakeholders Workshop along with recommendations from County Staff. The public may observe this issues workshop, but no public input will be permitted. Click the link above for more information from the County website.

Position Statement: Next Steps for the DR/GR - This position statement has been signed by many residential, civic, and environmental groups in response to the McLane DR/GR "Compilation Study". This, along with the press release below has been presented to the Smart Growth Committee, county staff, and Commissioners. It outlines the next steps we believe need to be taked regarding the DR/GR.

Estero Community group appoints former Lee County official to investigate planning for sensitive DR/GR areas - This grant-funded initiative is something we've been working on behind the scenes for over a year. It should provide additional guidance for improved land use planning in the DR/GR.


Aug 7, 2007 Charlotte news: County, environmentalist call for mine study - Cooper: Mines should have 'a reasonable plan' - Jim Cooper of Cape Haze can't understand why the federal government won't initiate a comprehensive study of the impacts of phosphate mining, or, at the least, hold a public hearing to consider the public's concerns over the latest proposal for an 11,000-acre mine. Article by Greg Martin - Sun-Herald 07/29/07

Back to reality
- Website updates resume today after a too-brief vacation.


Jul 27, 2007 Mine hearing gets even longer - Proceeding will now pick up in September. A lengthy hearing on a proposed mine in Estero may last more than twice as long as originally planned so that more experts can testify in the case. Denes Husty III - News-Press


Jul 26, 2007 Submit your DR/GR Stakeholders Workshop comments - If you were unable to attend the DR/GR Stakeholders Workshop last night, you can email your comments to Wayne Daltry, Director of Lee County Smart Growth. Your comments will be made a part of the record and submitted to the BOCC on August 9th. Mr. Daltry's email is: wdaltry@leegov.com

Cross examination of expert witness delays mine hearing - Dr. Sydney T. Bacchus, PhD, a Hydroecologist with Applied Environmental Services, LLC, provided testimony on behalf of Corkscrew Road residents in the Estero Group Mine zoning case on July 19th. Her presentation described her study of the ecological impacts to onsite and offsite wetland systems caused by non-mechanical dewatering of the surficial and Florida aquifers which occurs as a result of mining excavations.

Attorneys for the applicant, Estero Group Ltd., as well as an attorney representing two other Corkscrew Road landowners who have applied for permits to mine in the area, asked the Hearing Examiner for more time to prepare their cross examination of Dr. Bacchus. The hearing, has been continued to September 4, 5, & 7. In addition, the Hearing Examiner asked all parties to clear their calendars for the following week (Sep 10-14) should that time be needed to complete the hearing.

Dr. Bacchus' research on the ecological impacts of mining on lands in Lee County's DR/GR has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the Geological Society of America, and the National Wetlands Newsletter. The following are two recent publications:

Estero Group Mine Hearing - Day 5 Update
- On Wednesday, July 26, the Lee County Hearing Examiner heard continued testimony from County Staff about the basis for their recommendation of approval for the subject case. Subject matter areas included Lee DOT traffic engineering, traffic crash data, road construction, and code enforcement activities for mining operations. There were also several members of the public who provided testimony in opposition to the rezoning.

The Hearing Examiner recessed early (4:30 PM) in order to allow hearing participants opportunity to attend the DR/GR Stakeholder meeting in Estero at 6 PM.

No consensus on sensitive land - Growth committee workshop hosts several competing interests. The presentation was called “One Area, One Government, Different Dreams” — aptly named, for the most part. Ryan Hiraki - New-Press

Collier rejects mine proposal; preserves rural growth plan - County now faces Bert Harris claim by owners of North Belle Meade land who want to sell rock-mining rights. Eric Staats - Bonita News 07/26/07

Collier closer to buying largest parcel to preserve - Collier County’s land preservation program is on track to buy its biggest piece of property yet. Eric Staats - Bonita News 07/25/07

  • Update: This 368 acre parcel is on Corkscrew Road just across the Lee-Collier line. John Murray (CREW) informed me last night that they are celebrating the fact that the deal is done and the land is preserved. Congratulations to CREW, the Starnes family, and the Collier BOCC for their efforts to preserve this valuable habitat.


Jul 24, 2007 Reminder: Stakeholders Workshop on the Critical Issues facing the southern DR/GR - This workshop is sponsored by the Lee County Smart Growth Committee. The purpose is to gather input from stakeholders and to ask the question, "What are the critical issues you see facing the DR/GR now and in the foreseeable future". The meeting will take place:

Wednesday, July 25 - 6-8PM at the
Estero Community Park Rec Center

(click for map)

As a resident of the Corkscrew / Estero area, YOU are a stakeholder. Your input is needed at this meeting. Please plan to attend. The announcement link above contains more background and details, including updated maps of DR/GR flowways, land ownership, & land use plans.

Estero Group Mine Hearing may set new record - According to officials with the Lee Hearing Examiners Office, the previous record for longest-running zoning case is 15 days. As of today, the ongoing Estero Group hearing is scheduled to run at least 8 days. The Hearing continues tomorrow, July 25th. Testimony from the public is welcomed.

The Hearing Examiner agreed to an early recess on Wednesday in order to allow hearing participants opportunity to attend the DR/GR Stakeholder meeting in Estero at 6PM.

Yet another new Corkscrew mine application - Cypress Bay MPD, a 1,154 acre "Mixed Use Planned Development" officially submitted application for rezoning last week. Proposed uses include mining. This application represents the fifth active mine application currently being considered by Lee County. We'll share more details as they become available.

This latest application brings the current status of mining on Corkscrew Road to:

  • 2 mines actively operating
    • Westwind
    • Cemex
  • 5 mines in application
    • Estero Group
    • Corkscrew Excavation (Youngquist)
    • Golf Rock
    • Schwab II
    • Cypress Bay
  • 2 landholders stating intentions to mine
    • Old Corkscrew Plantation
    • Six L's Farms
  • 1 landholder in litigation for the right to mine
    • Schwab I

Southeast Lee Mining Map - Updated today to include the Cypress Bay mine application, as well as confirmation from planners for Old Corkscrew Plantation that they intend to mine on their 6000+ acre property. Click image below for full-size (217 KB).


Jul 23, 2007 Estero Group Hearing Continues Tomorrow - The Estero Group mine hearing continues this week on Tuesday July 24th and most likely Wednesday, July 25th. Testimony from the public is welcomed on both days. Remember, if you don't testify during this hearing, you will not be given opportunity to testify before the County Commission for the final decision.


Jul 22, 2007 Expert: Estero mining could destroy wetlands - Mining in the Corkscrew Road area might aid in the eventual destruction of wetlands in the environmentally sensitive rural lands east of Interstate 75, a water resources expert testified this week during an ongoing hearing on the subject. Denes Husty III - News-Press

Estero mine hearing to last into Sept. - Cross-examination of residents' expert forces additional time. A marathon hearing on a proposed mine for Corkscrew Road will become even longer, continuing into next week and then reconvening in September, participants said Friday. Denes Husty III - News-Press

Estero residents criticize new mine - A new mine in their neighborhood will increase traffic accidents, threaten the rural environment and lower property values along Corkscrew Road, east Estero residents Wednesday told a county hearing examiner. Denes Husty III - News-Press


Jul 18, 2007 Hearing update: The first day of the Estero Group hearing was completed at 4:15 PM. About 75 residents were on hand for the proceedings. Hearing Examiner Dianna Parker allowed public testimony from those who couldn’t return on Thursday. Many more residents are expected to speak tomorrow (Thursday) after the applicant wraps up their presentations. It appears the hearing will continue at least until Friday.

Quote by Corkscrew's Bill Lytell chosen by FloridaTrend.com as "Quote of the Day":

We're the little man. We have nothing to gain and everything to lose.

--Bill Lytell said referring to his small town near Fort Myers fighting the installation of large mine pits.



Federal Judge Hoeveler decision - (bad links fixed). Folks interested in Lee's DR/GR should make themselves familiar with this case. This decision will lead to additional pressure from big mining companies for new limerock mines in this area.

Mining war may spawn a land plan - A battle royal between some country folk and the big mining companies likely will generate a lot of heat and may just as likely solve the immediate question at hand. News-Press Editorial 07/18/07

Estero residents protest mine proposal - A new mine in their neighborhood will increase the risk of traffic accidents, lower property values and threaten the rural environment along Corkscrew Road, East Estero residents this morning told a county hearing examiner. Denes Husty - Ft. Myers News-Press

Residents lambaste proposed mines in eastern Estero - John Osborne, Bonita Daily News

Estero leaders pledge anti-mining support - Council of Community Leaders will assist East Corkscrew Road residents in their fight against rock mining near their homes. Jessie L. Bonner - Bonita Daily News

Miami-Dade mining ruling could have local impact - A federal judge’s decision on a Miami-Dade mining case could be felt in Estero. Charlie Whitehead - Bonita Daily News



Jul 17, 2007

Public Hearing Begins Tomorrow!

2nd Fl., Dept of Community Development Bldg.
1500 Monroe Street - Downtown Ft. Myers
9:00 AM - (click for map)

Hope to see you there!

Rural life may be stripped - Baptist preacher Bill Lytell is ready to give one of his fire-and-brimstone speeches at a hearing Wednesday, but it won’t be to his congregation. News-Press article by Denes Husty III - 07/17/07

Judge Hoeveler issues ruling - halts Miami-Dade mining permits - Despite doomsday cries from miners, and FDOT, Judge Hoeveler issued his ruling which required an immediate halt of mining in the areas with the greatest potential to contaminate the wellfield. "He completely discounted the FDOT "strategic aggregate study" as being cooked-up to serve the miners' interests." Click link for more, including links to the full decision.

Judge curbs mining in Miami-Dade County to shield water - To protect Miami-Dade drinking water, a federal judge ordered rock miners to stop blasting and digging in a large chunk of the industry's most valuable land.
BY CURTIS MORGAN - Miami Herald 07/13/07

Judge blocks mining in key Miami-Dade area, industry to appeal - Rock mining companies plan to appeal a federal judge's ruling that put a stop to rock mining in parts of Miami-Dade County on the grounds it is endangering the area's drinking water supply. Associated Press 07/14/07

1800 ADDITIONAL Dump Trucks on Corkscrew Road? - Zoning applications for mines in Lee County must include a “traffic impact study” which predicts the number of truck trips the mine will generate. But these estimates are far from reality once the mine gets their permit.


Jul 16, 2007 Dirt mine petition raises concerns in Estero - The continuing No New Mines battle in east Estero pits middle class homesteaders living on 5- and-10-acre lots against owners of hundreds of acres they want to mine. News-Press article by DENES HUSTY III - 07/16/07

Announcement: Stakeholders Workshop on the Critical Issues facing the southern DR/GR - The purpose of the workshop is to gather input from stakeholders and to ask the question, "What are the critical issues you see facing the DR/GR now and in the forseeable future". The meeting will take place:

Wednesday, July 25 - 6-8PM at the
Estero Community Park Rec Center

(click for map)

As a resident of the Corkscrew / Estero area, YOU are a stakeholder. Your input is needed at this meeting. Please plan to attend. The announcement link above contains more background and details, including updated maps of DR/GR flowways, land ownership, & land use plans.


Jul 12, 2007 Last night's pre-hearing meeting at the Library was very successful with well over 100 people in attendance. Local media was on hand to cover the event. See links to the media coverage below.

Donations for the legal fund were collected, but more is needed. A trust fund has been established to help distribute some of these costs. There will be a full financial accounting for those that contribute. If you feel you can contribute to the fund (any amount is fine), please make your check out to "Thomas Hart Trust Account" and write Corkscrew Mining Challenge in the memo section. Include your email so that accounting info can be provided. Contributions may be mailed to:

Thomas Hart Trust Fund
P.O. Box 2449
Ft. Myers, FL 33902

Homeowners speak out against mining company - Fed up homeowners faced-off against a mining company claiming the work is tearing up their Estero neighborhood. At a public meeting on Wednesday, residents had a simple message for the company - stop mining. Article by NBC-2.com (with video).

Rock mine near Collier Fairgrounds looking to expand - A mining company is moving ahead with plans to increase the size of its 626-acre mine off of Immokalee Road near the county fairgrounds by nearly 500 acres. Article by Larry Hannan - Naples Daily News.

An update from Nicole Ryan, Conservancy of SW Fla.: "This mine is located within the Rural Fringe Mixed Use District’s Transfer of Development Rights program area. It is within the Receiving Area, where mining is allowed based on fewer environmental resources contained on the land. State and federal permits will still have to be obtained, but from a planning perspective, this is how the process should work. Mining directed to the areas most compatible. This is also an example of how a TDR, or similar, program can work and still allow development, ag, mining and other uses IF it is planned in a compatible manner."


Jul 8, 2007 East Corkscrew residents say ‘never mine' our area - Bonitanews.com article by Elizabeth Wright 07/07/07


Jul 3, 2007 CALL TO ACTION - Corkscrew Friends and Neighbors are urged to attend the upcoming public hearing for the Estero Group Mine scheduled to begin on July 18th at 9AM. Please mark your calendar with this very important date!

A Pre-Hearing meeting for friends and neighbors opposed to the mines will be held at 7PM Wednesday, July 11th at the South Regional Library on Three Oaks Parkway.




Jun 27, 2007 Public Hearing Alert: Estero Group Mine Zoning Hearing is scheduled for July 18, 19, 20, 24, & 25th. - Please mark your calendar and plan to be there - your participation is vital! We are in the process of planning a pre-hearing strategy meeting for residents. Please check back soon for more details.

The Lee County Department of Community Development provides a very helpful guide that describes the hearing examiner process, and how the public participates in the proceedings. It includes the address of the hearing, layout of the hearing room, and rules about how cases such as ours are handled. Please take a few minutes to read the guide here.

What to Expect in the Hearing Examiner Process - a helpful document based on a conversation between Chip Block, Senior Planner in Community Development and Peggy Apgar’Schmidt, a former resident of Corkscrew.

Florida case law documents permissibility of fact-based testimony from residents or other concerned citizens as competent, substantial evidence.

Map to Estero Group Mine Zoning Public Hearing

Some additional review of the Estero Group Mine application:

Lee DCD Staff has recommended APPROVAL of the Estero Group Ltd. request for rezoning to Industrial Planned Development. In their 22 page report, Lee staffers concluded that the requested zoning "is compatible with surrounding property uses, will not adversely affect environmentally critical areas, and will not place undue burden on existing transportation facilities."

While Corkscrew and Estero residents are disappointed by the County's recommendation, it's important to remember that the hearing examiner must consider all testimony prior to making a recommendation to the BOCC. Residents will provide extensive testimony about adverse impacts of the proposed mining operation at the Public Hearing on July 18-20,24,25th.

You can download the Lee DCD Staff Report here. (large file warning - 1.4MB PDF)


Jun 26, 2007 Second panther death on Corkscrew in 9 months leads to action and results from National & Florida Wildlife Foundations. A panther killed by a truck on Corkscrew Road prompts improvements to the wildlife crossing that is supposed to protect them.


Apr 14, 2007 Protect local power, wetlands - When people start streamlining government, look out. Somebody’s looking to protect their income stream from meddling officials, who just may be meddling in the public interest.

The sleeper in the House bill is a ban on county or city regulations preventing mining “where mining is a permissible use..." Editorial -News-Press 04/14/07


Apr 4, 2007 Protect the Everglades with rock-mining study - Under Gov. Bush, state officials had an invitation from Palm Beach County to study the future of the Everglades Agricultural Area. They accepted before they declined.
Palm Beach Post Editorial - 04/04/07

A dirty shame: County commissioners bow to mining interests - Charlotte County has solidified its dubious distinction as the fill-dirt mining capital of Southwest Florida. Editorial - Herald Tribune 04/04/07


Apr 3, 2007 Action Needed! Legislative update on PCB 07-12 relating to Mining - The House Environment and Natural Resources Council has passed this bill related to mining. The next stop is the Policy and Budget Council. Read the update for more information about what you can do to help eliminate the local government pre-emption language.

Corkscrew residents fear state would take control of mines from county - A group of Estero residents really, really wants something done about mining in southeastern Lee County. Bonita News article by Charlie Whitehead - 03/30/07

Lawmakers may lower local hurdles to new mining - With the state warning a rock shortage could derail development, lawmakers look to lower the local hurdles to new mining. Miami Herald - 04/03/07.

Charlotte skips ban on new dirt mining - Officials say they'll work out new laws with dirt excavators. For the third time, commissioners opted Monday to do nothing to stall a dirt mining rush, even though the number of applications for new fill mines jumped from 25 to 33 in less than eight hours Friday. Herald Tribune - 04/03/07.


Apr 2, 2007 Tallahassee lobbyists target Palm Beach County's moratorium on limestone mines - Under Florida's swamps, forests and cane fields lie crucial materials for the construction of roads, bridges, houses and shopping centers. And a fight has begun in the state Legislature over how -- and whether -- to extract them. South Florida Sun-Sentinal - 04/02/07


Apr 1, 2007 Charlotte mine battle could have wide impact - Leaders in Charlotte want laws as tough as other counties, but they are meeting resistance from the mining industry and state lawmakers who want to relegate control over mines to state agencies. Herald Tribune - 04/01/07

Aggregate Madness - Letter to the Editor by Corkscrew Neighbor Bill Lytell - Fort Myers News-Press - 03/31/07


Mar 22, 2007 New proposed legislation related to mining - Proposed Committee Bill 07-12, sponsored by the Environment and Natural Resources Council has been forwarded to House Council. This bill would effectively silence the authority of local government in land use planning decisions about mining. If this bill passes, we can expect rapid conversion of Corkscrew to an industrial mega-complex that would serve much of the state with rock.

We are preparing responses to this and other similar legislation. Please stay tuned for a call to action - we'll need your help with letters and phone calls to our representatives.

FDOT Aggregate Study - The momentum behind this and other proposed bills is well documented by the a recent study commissioned by FLDOT on behalf of the mining industry. The 126 page report is available online here (PDF file size - 6.31MB).


Mar 6, 2007 2007 Legislative Session Starts Today - With the launch of the 2007 Legislative Session, 1000 Friends of Florida is busy at work monitoring legislation related to growth management, and other timely issues. Click here for a brief overview of some of the issues they will be covering this session.

There is some especially troubling legislation being filed by Senator Michael Bennett, District 21 (covering parts of Charlotte, Desoto, Lee, Manatee, and Sarasota counties) among others.

Of particular interest is the note to "Expect to see a bill or amendment intended to pre-empt county government authority to regulate mining activities."

The powerful mining industry lobby is hard at work in Tallahassee. Senate Bill 2784 filed yesterday would direct regulatory agencies considering changes related to mining to address the effect of their decision on the supply of mined materials. The bill also creates a task force and directs FLDOT to identify locations of significant construction aggregate resources statewide. Expect to see our neighborhood on this map.

1000 Friends is aware of the Corkscrew mining situation. You may want to sign up for growth management alerts if you don't already get them.

Mar 1, 2007 New public awareness flyer - Impacts of mining on Corkscrew Road will adversely affect more than just those of us who live next door. Please help get the word out about the mining situation by printing and sharing copies with friends, neighbors & co-workers. Click the image to download the full-size version (Adobe Acrobat PDF - 158KB).

Estero mine hearing delayed - About 150 east Estero residents had planned to speak out Friday against a proposed mine in their neighborhood. However, that zoning hearing before Lee County’s hearing examiner has been pushed back to July. News-Press Article by Denise Scott - Feb. 22, 2007


Feb 17, 2007 Editorial: Interstate 75/Coconut Road - Diverse groups coalesce to fight for environment. Anyone harboring doubts about the proposal to develop the eastern side of Interstate 75, opposite Coconut Road in Estero, ought to be impressed with the latest move to fight it. Naples Daily News - 02/17/07
Feb 14, 2007 Estero Group Mine hearing rescheduled - Our legal representative Tom Hart, reports that the Lee County Hearing Examiner held a status conference today to determine if this rezoning case will move forward. The applicant stated that they were ready to go to hearing. The hearing has been scheduled for 5 days beginning July 18th. The scheduled dates are July 18, 19, 20, 24, and 25. As always, the applicant can postpone these dates right up until the last moment. Stay tuned for updates.

Yet another new Corkscrew mining application - Schwab Materials, Inc. has submitted a rezoning application with the County Planning Department for a new rock mine. The application requests rezoning of 600 acres from AG-2 to Industrial Planned Development (IPD) and approval of a General Mining Permit to allow an excavation, mining operation (construction materials mining operation) with a maximum depth of 110 feet. The applicant indicates that the operation will include blasting operations.

The subject property (labeled Schwab II in the map below) is the citrus grove on Corkscrew Road to the west of the Corkscrew Country Store. The property is adjacent to the parcel currently involved in litigation under the Bert Harris Private Property Rights Act.

This latest application brings the current status of mining on Corkscrew Road to:

  • 2 mines actively operating
    • Westwind
    • Cemex
  • 4 mines in application
    • Estero Group
    • Corkscrew Excavation (Youngquist)
    • Golf Rock
    • Schwab II
  • 2 landholders stating intentions to mine
    • Cypress Bay
    • Six L's Farms
  • 1 landholder rumored to be planning mines
    • Corkscrew Plantation
  • 1 landholder in litigation for the right to mine
    • Schwab I

Southeast Lee County Mining Map - Updated today to include the Schwab II mine application. Click image below for full-size (217 KB).

Runway rock may be mined for riches - Dade county has long-range plans to make a lot of money at a small airfield in the far northwest corner of Dade.
Miami-Herald - 02/13/07


Jan 24, 2007 Lee Commission delays vote on $15 million Corkscrew Road widening - Lee County commissioners deferred action on a $15 million contract to widen a stretch of Corkscrew Road Tuesday. Article by Charlie Whitehead - Naples Daily News

The above article suggests the BOCC wants to wait for a traffic study to determine if mines to the east should contribute to the costs. The question in our minds is which mines will pay, and will agreements from them "grease the skids" for future mine zoning approvals on Corkscrew Road?






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