Monday morning, May 2, 2016 the commissioners of Bradford County met at chambers on Temple Ave. in Starke. They faced many questions from very concerned citizens, some of them hard, and many were not answered.
One of these questions which carried with it considerable emotion, was “Why did the board proceed with the meeting on April 21, allowing citizens to contribute information regarding the dangers and risks of the proposed mine, when they knew beforehand an application had been legally filed earlier that day?” Hours were wasted because information was withheld purposely. Why was this done?
Indeed, it was revealed at the May 2 meeting that four of the five were aware that there was a pending application. And near the end of the April 21 meeting, several different voices were repeatedly heard, saying there was “no pending application.” This is on the audio tape.
After an uncomfortable incident, the citizens left the meeting room with the understanding that a workshop would be held on April 29, providing an opportunity for them to present more information and education regarding the mine.
This brings out the question one citizen presented: since the application had been filed prior to the April 21 meeting, which had placed the issue in a quasi-judicial standing, were the commissioners following those guidelines? Did the commissioners break their own rules?
Another unanswered question: “How many more meetings must take place, and which ones are they, during the process to grant or deny the application?” Neither County Attorney Sexton nor the board could tell the people.
Probably the two brightest spots in the May 2 meeting, was (1) that Chair Eddy Lewis recommended that County Attorney Sexton attend the Alachua County commissioners meeting in Gainesville on May 3, 2016, thus taking advantage of that commission’s generous offer to provide assistance, advice and information in ways to discuss this problem. We say this because the Alachua Commission is on the forefront of protecting their environment, and they see this mine as a clear threat and danger to the Santa Fe River.
Bright spot (2) is that we can commend Commissioner Riddick for his work to verify that the application was duly and legally filed.
Several members of the audience spoke against the mine, among them OSFR. No proponents of the mine expressed opinions.