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Did deletion of Map 14 impact the Hearing Examiners recommendation for Troyer Brothers (DCI2016-00025)?

No.  The Hearing Examiner evaluated the request assuming adoption of CPA2016-00006 to add the Troyer Brothers property to Map 14.  Based on the assumed location of the Troyer Brothers property on Map 14, the Hearing Examiner was able to recommend approval, with conditions.

What happened at the June 19, 2019 Board Adoption Hearing?

On June 19, the Lee County Board of County Commissioners held an adoption hearing for the Lee Plan amendments.  The hearing was the second of two public hearings before the Board.  At this hearing, the Board voted 3-1 to adopt the Lee Plan amendments.  The adopted amendments became effective on October 10, 2020.

What were the comments received from the State reviewing agencies?
Comments from reviewing agencies support Lee County's conclusions that the proposed amendments will have no adverse impacts on water quality, surface water flows, groundwater levels, transportation networks, residential developments, water tables, or any rare, unique, or endangered wildlife or habitat. This amendment doesn't approve any mining requests. 

The State reviewing agencies included:
Following the Lee Board of County Commissioners' vote at the April 17 public hearing to transmit the proposed Lee Plan amendments to the State for review, comments were received from the various participating agencies in the State's review process (see above).  

There were no objections to the proposed amendments from the State reviewing agencies.  

Click here for some comments of note
Office of Intergovernmental Programs, Florida Department of Environmental Protection

The Department conducted a detailed review that focused on potential adverse impacts to important state resources and facilities, specifically: air and water pollution; wetlands and surface waters of the state; federal and state-owned lands and interest in lands, including state parks, greenways and trails, conservation easements; solid waste; and water and wastewater treatment.  Based on the review of the submitted amendment package, the Department found no provision that, if adopted, would result in adverse impacts to important state resources subject to the Department's jurisdiction.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

We have no comments, recommendations, or objections related to listed species and their habitat or other fish and wildlife resources to offer on this amendment.

South Florida Water Management District

The amendment package includes map and text amendments regarding the Future Limerock Mining Overlay and does not include any proposed mining activities.  After an extensive review of the proposed revisions, the District has determined the changes do not appear to adversely impact the water resources within the District.  The District has no comments on the proposed amendment package; however, the District offers the following technical guidance:  The District acknowledges that future mining and development activity is not included in this comprehensive plan amendment.  This review does not alleviate the need for District permits if future mining activities are proposed.

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. 

What was proposed by the Mining Amendments?

The Lee Plan required the County to designate on a Future Land Use Map overlay 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 required Lee County to serve as the entity that was responsible for ensuring adequate supply of limerock to meet the regional demand. When regional demand increases or the limerock supply is reduced, the Lee Plan required 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 adopted amendments deleted the requirement for a limerock regional demand analysis; deleted Map 14, the Future Limerock Mining Overlay; and, removed or corrected ambiguities in the Lee Plan.  Each of those changes is discussed in more detail below:

Adopted Amendment: Deleted the requirement for a market analysis of regional limerock supply and demand.

Every seven years, Lee County was 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 did not provide a specific methodology for completing the required market analysis.

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

Adopted Amendment: Deleted 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.

Adopted 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 that was removed was duplicative of other Lee Plan provisions and Mine Excavation Planned Development (MEPD) requirements; keeping it would have served no purpose or provided additional protections.                            

How does Lee County regulate mining? Did the Mining Amendments to the Lee Plan 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 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 did 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.

Were the Mining Amendments 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 first public hearing in front of the Board, the transmittal hearing for the Lee Plan amendments, was held on April 17, 2019 (four months after the first public hearing). The second public hearing was on June 19, 2019. 

Did the Mining Amendments decrease public input opportunities for future mining cases?

No. The Mining Amendments removed a requirement that Map 14 be amended to include a specific property to be mined prior to proceeding with mining.  Removal of this requirement eliminated the public hearing requirement associated with the Lee Plan amendment.  However, the amendments included 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.

Were any mines approved by the amendment?

No mines were 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).

How were the Mining Amendments related to the Troyer Brothers and Old Corkscrew Plantation mining zoning cases?

The Mining Amendments were not related to these mining zoning cases.  The cases for Troyer Brothers and Old Corkscrew Plantation were reviewed under their applicable regulations. 

Did the Mining Amendments eliminate, or loosen, existing restrictions on mining operations? Is it 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 were not 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.

What did eliminating the requirement of a market analysis accomplish?

By eliminating the market analysis, the County is no longer 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 did not prevent an over allocation of mining, nor did it provide for protection of natural resources.

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.

Did the Mining Amendments lessen the protection of water resources and wildlife habitats?

No. The Mining Amendments did 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 were not amended or eliminated.