Union County leaders met December 18, 2017 in Lake Butler to present to the public a workshop focused on extending the moratorium on accepting mining permit applications for another year, giving the commissioners time to fortify the land use regulations. The moratorium extension will follow through to its second and final hearing on Jan. 16, 2018, where the final vote will be taken.
A large number of the public went to the podium to express their opposition to the mine. These included members of OSFR, Sierra Club, Santa Fe Lake Dwellers and many others. Some traveled from as far away as Lakeland. At least four young people, some from UF, voiced their concerns as to what they might have left for water resources if the mine is allowed.
HPS II was represented by one lawyer who spoke briefly for his client, and his was the only voice opposing the moratorium extension.
From the environmentalist viewpoint, these commissioners seem to have the situation well in hand. From the beginning it appears that they have had the foresight to assess the possibility of the mine in their county, and they have taken steps to control this threat to their way of life.
They have put forth a plan to proceed with adjusting their county’s Land Development Regulations to compensate for threats such as a phosphate mine, which could possibly destroy their current way of life.
Scott Koons of the North Central Florida Regional Planning Council presented a Power Point presentation outlining two options for amending the land use regulations. County Attorney Russell Wade aided in a discussion by the board as to the differences. Discussion ensued and will continue at the next meeting on Jan. 16.
The next meeting is crucial, as the final vote will be taken to extend the moratorium. We also need Union County residents to step up to the podium, identify themselves as residents, and simply say they oppose the mine. This will be put into the record, which may be important down the line. We have hard-working, faithful opponents of the mine who have never spoken at a BOCC meeting. Now is the time to get identified as a formal opponent of this threat.
OSFR commends those who took the time and effort to attend this meeting. It is important to show support for the commissioners who are working hard to do what is best not only for their county and its residents, but for all the many people who might be negatively affected by a phosphate mine upriver from where they live and recreate.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-