Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Houses, Horses and Mines in Marion County, Florida

From the "Sinkhole Damage Blog" of Morgan Barfield, Esquire;

"While sinkhole activity and sinkhole damage has been associated more with the Hernando, Pasco, and Pinellas counties, Marion County is experiencing a considerable increase in the number of sinkhole claims. While the ultimate source of this increase is unknown, it is fair to assume it can be attributed in part to the increased awareness and concerns of the Marion County residents. Recently, a homeowner whose house required one of the most expensive repairs we have seen as property sinkhole insurance lawyers. In the recent past, Marion County and Hernando County both made headlines when homeowners lost entire sections of their house due to sinkhole collapse, luckily while no one was at home."
#         #          #

"The ultimate source of this increase is unknown." Interesting that this is their position. Do they really not know or is it a case of we don't want to upset any of our other lawyer friends and business clients by acknowledging this county is considering it's 17th limestone quarry? No, that must not be it, because he did say, "it is fair to assume that it can be attributed in part to the increased awareness and concerns of Marion residents." Aspirin, please.

More from the SD Blog:
I live in Ocala, and there seem to be a lot more sinkholes than there were a few years ago. Is it my imagination?
"No, it’s not just you. Recently we have seen a dramatic increase in sinkhole claims reported in the Ocala area. The homeowners we speak to are often shocked to learn that sinkhole activity is so prevalent in their surrounding area. 
In one recent case we have come across what, in our experience, is one of the largest sinkholes we have ever seen at a residential property, and it is right in the heart of Ocala. This particular home took nearly five times the grout most homes with sinkhole damage typically will. After the grouting, data indicates that the home’s foundation still remains nearly three and a half inches off level. Unfortunately, the insurance company does not think any more repairs are necessary."
Florida HB 1447 was introduced earlier this year by Representative Bryan Nelson (an insurance company insider, surprise) to "reduce consumer insurance fraud," but what it really does is gut sinkhole insurance. South Florida rock miners are on the move seeking new ground since the 404 permitting is becoming a little more difficult. If  HB 1447 goes through and becomes law, it will be even more challenging for homeowners who live in the new mining target zones such as Marion County.

Now the horses are caught in the crossfire of mining interests vs Ocala's rich pastureland.
(More on that below in the "Opposition Group Scrambles to Pay Legal Fees")

Ocala.com March 23, 2010
Bill Thompson
"Lawmakers listened"

The Legislature subsequently declared in law that mining limerock and other aggregate materials "was a strategic and critical need" and that "a disruption of the supply would cause a significant detriment to the state's construction industry, transportation system, and overall health, safety, and welfare."

To that end, lawmakers deemed new limerock mines qualified for "expedited permitting" and that any hearing on any applications that are challenged must be conducted within 30 days after a party filed for such a hearing.

It was this legal language that Steve Gray, CB Three LLC's lawyer, referred to last month in encouraging the magistrate to recommend that the County Commission approve his client's permit.

This requirement, he wrote, makes the magistrate "seriously consider proposed approval conditions which when imposed would minimize the impact of approval of the mining on adjacent and nearby property owners."

But some question whether such urgency exists.

Jason Willett, a crushed stone commodity specialist with the U.S. Geological Survey, notes that limerock production fell by almost half in just two years.

Output in Florida dropped from a peak of 124 million tons in 2006 - the year surveyed by the authors of that FDOT report - to 65.8 million tons in 2008.

"Nationally, production is down to 1990 levels," Willett said in an interview, noting that some mines around the country are closing because of slack demand.

"In Florida and everywhere else, less mining is needed. If demand was still high, they would have to get the resource somewhere else. But we'll need years of [economic] recovery to get back where we were and we won't need new mines until we get back to that level."
#                    #                      # 

If this story is true, and Mr. Willett's assessment is accurate regarding demand, then why do we need another quarry in Shelby County when there are presently already 5 of them operating here? Where is this limestone going if demand is down? Who is White Rock Quarries Vincent Hills mine going to be supplying? The Northern Beltline in Jefferson County or perhaps the proposed elevated Highway 280 project? Has Vecellio, the parent company of WRQ, bid on either project?

And the most important question, yet simpliest of all, which is certainly obvious given all the information here; Does Vincent, Alabama need this quarry?

So many questions and very few answers, but a Marion 8200 full of possibilities and suspicions.
Marion 8200 Dragline (Blackwater Mine - QLD) Aust.

Let's go back to Marion County and see how this all turned out.
Ocala Star-Banner May 19, 2010
Bill Thompson
May 19--Opponents of a lime rock quarry proposed for northwest Marion County turned out in force Tuesday night to deliver a simple message to the County Commission: They weren't coming to the mine; the mine was coming to them -- and they were saying no thanks.

The commission agreed -- unanimously.

Commissioners ruled that the mine did not fit with the character of the community. They sided with neighbors who had expressed concerns about their peace and quiet, their drinking water, their roads and their livestock.

On Tuesday, residents returned with many of those same concerns, with more than 30 of them urging the board to stand by its initial vote. They also asked the board to not lose sight of the people who must live next to the site, and at one point they even counted a lime rock miner as an ally.

"Believe me, we don't need polka dot mines all over this community. They're not nice to live next to," said Ocala businessman Whit Palmer, whose company operated a 700-plus acre mine near Reddick.

Gray, the quarry lawyer, said there would be a larger buffer around the property boundary than was initially proposed, and that would be installed before any mining took place.

He added that greater efforts would be made to control dust.

The presentation also included a blasting expert who told the board that the effect on homes from explosions would be "nil" and that nearby wells would be safe.

David Theriaque, a Tallahassee lawyer representing four neighbors fighting the mine, said the issue was not damage to structures but to people's emotional well being. He called it "inconceivable" that the neighbors' quality of life people would not be affected by blasting, not to mention truck traffic, dust clouds, lighting, heavy equipment noise and so on.

"They're not making a choice to live next to the mine." he said. "If they were, they would forfeit their right to complain."

"You adopted a policy that said mines and people don't mix, that mines and horses don't mix, and the flip side of that is that you don't put a new mine next to people. You don't put houses and people and horses and mines together." Theriaque said.

It's not over yet for this community. True to form, the miners are pushing back and attempting to break the opposition by wearing them down financially:
Ocala.com June 30, 2010
Bill Thompson
"The bills climbed because the defense of the county's decision, which was supplied solely by the mining opponents, grew increasingly complex with time and because of heightened involvement in the proceeding created by concerns about the coziness of the relationship among Bice, Fowler and the quarry company's lawyer, Steve Gray."
(Bice is an Ocala Attorney involved in the environmental issues of the quarry and obviously pro mining in her thinking from the story.)
"Activists also are hoping the public might help support them, either by learning of their story on the Internet at their website, farm1.wordpress.com, or in soon-to-appear articles in the thoroughbred industry's trade publications.
"It eats a hole in my gut that we owe [Theriaque] this money," Frenung said. "I'm the kind of person who keeps beating the bushes and hopes something falls out. But short of some benefactor coming forward to carry the ball from this point forward, I don't know where we go from here."
But she seems to fear more what might happen if the company prevails.
"It could have a huge impact on the thoroughbred industry," she added. "I'm worried it could set a precedent and I shudder at what might happen."
The activists welcome donations.
Anyone willing to help can make checks out to the firm of Theriaque and Spain and submit them care of Frenung's attorney, Larry Collins, at 4326 N.E. County Road 329, Anthony FL, 32617.
(Kudos to Mr. Thompson for his excellent reporting on this issue!)
#              #                #

The ground work is being laid for a war against the horse farms and the potential contamination to the groundwater they appear to being set up to be blamed for. Note that sinkholes are referenced as the points of potential contamination entry.  It is always something else that causes the water problems other than the obvious culprit; the rock miners creating the increase in sinkholes from massive groundwater withdrawals.

Ocala is going to have to decide between the horses and the rock miners; the two cannot continue to exist harmoniously as they may have been able to in the distant past, before heightened urbanization and the growing appetite for destruction of the mining industry.

We're pulling for the horses in this battle. Just as we are pulling for livestock and farming interests in Vincent, Alabama that are threatened by the WRQ quarry.


Ocala Horse Farm Sinkhole FLGS
Bookmark and Share

1 comment:

  1. It would have never occured to me how connected this all is. Wow. Thanks for the attention on our issue, much appreciated!


IP tracking & BS detector is enabled.
Don't set it off.