FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS<Bookmark>
1.  What is proposed by the Mining Amendments?

Currently, the Lee Plan requires the County to designate on a Future Land Use Map overlay (Map 14) sufficient land for continued limerock mining to meet regional demands. The 2008 Dover-Kohl study identifies Charlotte, Collier, Desoto, Glades, Hendry, Lee and Sarasota County as the group of Counties that represent the “regional demand.” The Lee Plan requires Lee County to serve as the entity that is responsible for ensuring adequate supply of limerock to meet the regional demand. When regional demand increases or the limerock supply is reduced, the current Lee Plan requires the County to update the industrial acreage in Southeast Lee County to reflect the acreage of limerock mining pits needed to meet local and regional demand. The proposed amendments will delete the requirement for a limerock regional demand analysis; delete Map 14, the Future Limerock Mining Overlay; and, remove or correct ambiguities in the Lee Plan.  Each of those changes is discussed in more detail below:

Proposed Amendment: Delete the requirement for a market analysis of regional limerock supply and demand.

Every seven years, Lee County is obligated to update the inventory of existing mining operations and analyze the supply of limerock material in relation to the projected demand of limerock “to meet the County’s need and to export to other communities.” The Lee Plan does not provide a specific methodology for completing the required market analysis.

Regardless, the County should not be responsible for supplying adequate limerock to meet regional demand as is currently required by the Lee Plan.  By deleting the requirement for a market analysis, the County will no longer be required to assure adequate supply of regional limerock demand.

Proposed Amendment: Delete Map 14 Future Limerock Mining Overlay with the requirement for amending the Lee Plan (Map 14) to designate locations for future mining.

The removal of Map 14 has been the subject of many public discussions. A mining application's approval is not affected by Map 14's existence. Map 14 boundaries were always subject to change based on the comprehensive plan amendment process. Any mining application could be approved if the application is consistent with the Lee Plan. Chapter 12 of the county's Land Development Code establishes the true criteria for evaluation of a mining application. Chapter 12 provides a comprehensive and stringent set of regulations for mining that address compatibility of mines and the potential negative environmental impacts that could arrive from mining operations. All other mine-related requirements remain in effect to protect water quality, habitat and quality of life.

Proposed Amendment:  Remove or correct ambiguous language.

Ambiguous or subjective language, such as “clear necessity” or “less disturbed,” results in inconsistent and conflicting interpretations of the Lee Plan.  Language being removed is duplicative of existing Lee Plan provisions and Mine Excavation Planned Development (MEPD) requirements; keeping it would serve no purpose or provide additional protections.                            

2.  How does Lee County currently regulate mining? Will the proposed Mining Amendments to the Lee

     Plan and Land Development Code change how the County regulates mines?

New mining operations or existing mining operations requiring the issuance of a renewal permit must comply with the provisions of Chapter 12 (Resource Extraction) of the LDC. Chapter 12 of the LDC requires mining operations to be approved through a Mine Excavation Planned Development (MEPD) and requires the issuance of a Mine Development Order (MDO) and Mine Operation Permit (MOP) prior to the commencement of any mining or mine-related improvements on a property. The MEPD must be approved by the Board of County Commissioners through the public hearing process prior to the issuance of an MDO and MOP by the Department of Community Development.

The proposed Mining Amendments do not change the MEPD, MDO, or MOP approval processes.  A request for a MEPD must be consistent with a multitude of existing Lee Plan Goals, Objectives, and Policies in order to be approved. The deletion of Map 14 (Future Limerock Mining Overlay) and the regional limerock market analysis requirement does not eliminate the need for an applicant to demonstrate that a MEPD request is consistent with established Lee Plan provisions governing future land use, compatibility with adjacent uses, minimization of adverse impacts, and the protection of wetlands and natural resources.

3.  Are the Mining Amendments being fast-tracked?

No. The Lee Plan Amendments were first considered at a public hearing in front of the Local Planning Agency (LPA) in December of 2018.  A second public hearing was conducted in January of 2019. The companion LDC amendments were developed in response to comments made during the LPA’s first public hearing and were introduced at the second public hearing. The LDC amendments were also reviewed by two advisory committees (the Executive Regulatory Oversight Committee and the Land Development Code Advisory Committee) in March of 2019. The first public hearing in front of the Board, the transmittal hearing for the Lee Plan amendments, is scheduled for April 17, 2019 (four months after the first public hearing). If the Board transmits the Lee Plan amendments, the second public hearing for the Lee Plan amendments and the two public hearings for the LDC amendments will likely not occur until June of 2019.

4.  What are the future public input opportunities on the Mining Amendments?

On April 17, the Lee Board of County Commissioners held a transmittal hearing for the Lee Plan amendments. The transmittal hearing was the first of two public hearings before the Board.  At this hearing, the Board voted 3-1 to transmit the proposed Lee Plan amendments to the State for further review by the State Land Planning Agency (Department of Economic Opportunity) and other State reviewing agencies.

The amendments are not approved by the Board until the adoption hearing. The adoption hearing will be scheduled after comments are received from the State reviewing agencies. The State reviewing agencies have 30 days to review the proposed amendments and provide comments.

The LDC amendments will also be scheduled for two public hearings around the same time as the Lee Plan amendment adoption hearing.

All four public hearings will be advertised and are open for public input. Public comment is limited to 3 minutes per person.

5.  Do the Mining Amendments decrease public input opportunities for future mining cases?

No. The Mining Amendments remove a requirement that Map 14 be amended to include a specific property to be mined prior to proceeding with mining.  Removal of this requirement will eliminate the public hearing requirement associated with the Lee Plan amendment.  However, the amendments include a policy that requires a public informational meeting to be held within the Community Plan area in which the mine is located prior to submittal of an application for rezoning to Mine Excavation Planned Development. Staff has also added public informational meeting language to the Land Development Code to implement this requirement.

6.  Are any mines being approved by this proposed amendment?

No mines will be approved as the result of the Mining Amendments.  All mines are required to be approved through the public hearing process for Mine Excavation Planned Developments (see Question 2).

7.  How are the Mining Amendments related to the two pending mining zoning cases (Troyer Brothers

     and Old Corkscrew Plantation)?

The Mining Amendments are not related to the pending mining zoning cases.  The cases for Troyer Brothers and Old Corkscrew Plantation will proceed under their applicable regulations. 

8.  Do the Mining Amendments eliminate, or loosen, existing restrictions on mining operations? Will it

     be easier for a mine to be approved?

No. The Mining Amendments reinforce Lee County’s obligation to protect natural resources in Southeast Lee County, and the protections that are currently in place are not being changed.  All future mines are required to obtain approval through the Mine Excavation Planned Development rezoning process and are subject to the requirements of Lee County Land Development Code Chapter 12.

9.  What does eliminating the requirement of a market analysis accomplish?

By eliminating the market analysis, the County would no longer be required to determine and supply regional limerock demand or expand Map 14. This change is consistent with how all other uses/markets are treated in the Lee Plan. The market analysis does not prevent an over allocation of mining, nor does it provide for protection of natural resources.

10. Will the Mining Amendments result in the location of limerock mines being allowed outside the

      Traditional Alico Road Corridor (TARC) and anywhere?

Mines are currently located outside the TARC and limerock mines could be approved outside of the TARC with or without the Mining Amendments. It was never anticipated that all limerock mines within Lee County would be located in the TARC.  

The number and location of future mines will be limited by resource availability and by existing land use patterns in Southeast Lee County. As depicted on the attached exhibit, much of the land in Southeast Lee County is publicly-owned, encumbered by conservation easements, or approved for mining or residential uses.  This will preclude widespread applications for limerock mining.

11. Do the Mining Amendments lessen the protection of water resources and wildlife habitats?

No. The Mining Amendments do not reduce or eliminate any protections of water resources and wildlife habitats. Protections of nearby wildlife habitat, water resources, and compatibility with nearby uses are required by provisions in Chapter 12 of the LDC.  These requirements are not being amended or eliminated.

12. Will the Mining Amendments create an influx of limerock mining zoning applications?

There is not currently a restriction on the number of limerock mining zoning applications.  Regardless of the number of applications, compliance with zoning requirements for Mine Excavation Planned Developments and applicable Lee Plan provisions will be necessary for an application to be approve

13. Are minimum setbacks for mining activities being reduced?

No. In fact, excavation setbacks are proposed to be increased through the proposed LDC amendments. Existing regulations prohibit excavations within 150 feet of an adjacent residential property line. The proposed LDC amendments, if approved, will prohibit excavations within 660 feet of any residential property line.

The proposed 660-foot setback for excavations is consistent with the setback requirements governing the placement of structures and equipment directly involved in the mining production process established in the Land Development Code. The proposed setback is also consistent with setback requirements established for uses that may be incompatible with surrounding residential uses such as asphalt batch plants, junkyards, salvage yards, sanitary landfills, and certain manufacturing uses.

14. What happened at the April 17, 2019, Board Transmittal Hearing?
On April 17, the Lee Board of County Commissioners held a transmittal hearing for the Lee Plan amendments. The transmittal hearing was the first of two public hearings before the Board.  At this hearing, the Board voted 3-1 to transmit the proposed Lee Plan amendments to the State for further review by the State Land Planning Agency (Department of Economic Opportunity) and other State reviewing agencies.