LEE COUNTY, Fla — Some environmentalists are concerned over discussions Lee County commissioners are having about removing restrictions on the construction of new mines.
The county is required to review mining operations every 7 years as part of its comprehensive study. Commissioner Brian Hamman wants to remove a cap on the amount mines that can be built in the county.
“Everyone is pointing their finger and Lake Okeechobee discharge, and creating havoc in our tourist and recreation development industry, yet they're not looking at the back yard impacts of their own decision making," said former county planner Greg Stewart.
Stewart now works for an Agri-business company called Secada Seed.
But Commissioner Hamman says the market, not county regulations should decide how many mines are built.
"These things cost millions of dollars just to apply for, so an investor is not just going to put a mine anywhere," said Hamman.
Lee County has some largest limestone deposits in the country. Limestone is used to build roads and bridges.
But Stewart says the county is over estimating how much limestone is available under the earth.
"It only takes one or two mines to completely destroy water quality downstream."
There are two mines pending in Lee County, Troyer Brothers and Corkscrew Plantation.
The county has postponed a scheduled hearing on changes to the mining regulations.