Latest on the happenings in DeSoto County with their fight against Mosaic. Their county commissioners have been a point of light in the darkness that is industry rolling roughshod over our essentials for life: clean water and air.
The next crucial moment, as mentioned at the end of the article, will likely be in February or March. Earlier indications were that DeSoto is quite ready for litigation if things do not go their way in the mediation.
Thanks to Sarah Hollenhorst for this article from the Arcadian.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
Mosaic dispute heads before resolution expert
By CRAIG GARRETT
Things firmed up Tuesday on the Mosaic phosphate mining project.
Donald Conn, DeSoto County’s legal representative, announced that a candidate to mediate a dispute over a land rezoning denial has been decided. Jacksonville attorney Terrance Schmidt will be asked to intervene, although he had not firmed that request, Conn told commissioners at the afternoon hearing. Conn said costs could run up to $10,000 for Schmidt’s services, in which he would hear from the two sides and recommend a settlement.
DeSoto County commissioners in July voted against rezoning 14,000 acres to industrial mining. Mosaic, which owns the property and another 9,000 acres zoned for phosphate mining, seeks to settle the matter before a professional, although that decision can be ignored. Steps beyond that would likely come before a judge.
Soliciting Schmidt, who has acted as a mediator in some 4,000 cases on behalf of the American Arbitration Association, follows weeks of seeking such candidates. DeSoto County had already turned away two dispute resolution lawyers offered by Mosaic. Both sides agreed to Schmidt, to splitting costs and to a series of bullet points in the resolution process, Conn said.
The goal, he said, is to “come to some agreement to avoid litigation, exercising other legal rights (Mosaic) has.”
Mining opponents Tuesday spoke against the project. But it was nothing like two days in July where 100 or so people voiced their opposition. Former commissioner James Selph at points threatened to remove those clapping or hooting. Mosaic at the July hearings presented their plans, which would have started into the next decade.
Commissioner Elton Langford into his comments on the matter in July stunned Florida by motioning to deny the rezoning application. That was a first. Mosaic under a state rule requested a mediator, or special master. Otherwise the Fortune 500 firm would wait one year to reapply for the rezoning. The firm may also adjust its project in order to reapply sooner, Conn said. The likely scenario, however, is dispute resolution, a series of workshops and a fresh application into 2020, he said, although the board’s July denial was “very defensible. I’m not concerned about defending the board’s (July) actions,” he said.
Mosaic didn’t send a representative to Tuesday’s hearing. The board next meets Jan. 8.
Those opposed to phosphate mining in DeSoto County spoke on Tuesday. Mediation would be public and is expected in February or March.