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Lee County approves mining expansion

Posted at 10:18 PM, Jun 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-20 07:38:13-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Lee Board of County Commissioners approved the expansion of mining by a 3-1 vote Wednesday. Many people who live there said they’re outraged over the decision.

Rachel Singletary said she’s concerned more mining will pollute the county’s drinking water.

“I’m a citizen of Lee County who is thoroughly disgusted with the four members of the Lee County Commission other than Frank Mann,” said

Frank Mann was the only commissioner to vote against the amendment. He said there were enough mining areas before the expansion approval.

“If it ain't broke don’t fix it. We all use that,” he said. “If there was ever a case of something that not being broken, folks this is it.”

Even though people raised concerns about more mining affecting drinking water, he said the county has to honor people’s property rights.

“We cannot say there’s going to be no mining because we have constitutional issues with that. You cannot tell a person they can do nothing with their land,” said Mann.

Former county planner Greg Stewart now works in the agriculture business and told FOX 4 back in March more mines mean more problems.

“It only takes one or two new mines to completely destroy water quality downstream,” said Stewart.

But Phillip Ford with Lee Building Industry Association supports the commission’s decision to expand mining because he said it’s necessary for new roads and housing development. He added the water is safe, citing reviews from entities like the South Florida Water Management District.

“You hear mining and so all of a sudden you say it’s going to impact water. But we haven’t seen anything and there’s no studies that show…and even the county staff and the state have said it’s not going to impact water,” he said.

The approval of this amendment does not approve any new mines, it simply allows for the possibility of mining in more areas.