Home Westwind Mine Drainage Project Mailing List Links Calendar

May 25, 2003

Mary Gibbs, Director
Lee County Community Development
1500 Monroe Street

Thank you for bringing your staff to meet with the residents of our East Corkscrew Road Rural Community regarding the proposed changes to the Land Development Code and the (now infamous) proposed “mining map”.

Attached is the document I promised you at the May 22nd meeting which lists the comments of the residents which were captured on flip chart pages and posted on the walls. What is not reflected in these comments are the excellent remarks and explanations of your staff.  We appreciate their attendance and their attention.

The residents’ remarks fell into several natural groupings. For ease of reading, comments are listed within a grouping rather than in the order in which they were made during the meeting.  The breadth of incompatibility, safety and environmental issues that mining on East Corkscrew Road precipitates is reflected in these groupings of associated comments.

We specifically ask that you and your staff reconsider wording within the proposed LDC changes that would eliminate our voice in future mining applications. As indicated in the attached comments, just the proposal of a mining map has drawn a mining land appraiser and additional properties for sale to mining interests along Corkscrew Road. The LDC changes as they stand would silence us and effectively take the current and future planned use of our properties from our control. 

We also request that you and your staff reconsider your recommendation of the north-south Corkscrew Road to Hwy 82 corridor which currently appears on the proposed map. The discussion of the significant incompatibilities and the tremendous adverse effects of just a small section within this corridor (which is now permitted for dirt mining) should form sufficient basis to delete this corridor from the map. The proposed corridor would multiply these adverse effects to the current residents 6 times over.

Please let us know your final recommendation as they relate to the proposed LDC changes related to mining prior to the June 10th public hearing.


Peggy Apgar’Schmidt
21400 Corkscrew Road
Estero, Florida 33928


May 22, 2003                                                            South County Regional Library


East Corkscrew Road Rural Community Meeting
with Lee County Community Development Department

Purpose:  To hear input from citizens living near a proposed mining area as delineated on the Strategic Mining Plan Map and the currently proposed LDC changes.  The area which citizens are stating is incompatible with existing and long-standing rural residential use is the north south corridor which borders East Corkscrew Road and State Road 82.

Citizen Comments


We were not notified of mines which applied for zoning or permits (and other zonings).

People within the area of potential impact of a mine should be notified. Current notification of landowners within 500 feet of the mine site is inadequate for a mine zoning or permitting. Mining is a very heavy industrial use with industrial impacts.  500 feet might be adequate for a day care center or other zoning, but the impact of an industrial mine is much greater that other businesses which ask for zoning.

Discussion about how to calculate the distance of a mine’s impact

  • 1 mile
  • 2 miles
  • distance blasts from mines are felt
  • distance affected by industrial and dirt/rock trucks
  • distance of noise and industrial light pollution


Who in the county follows up on reports that blasting has occurred at a deeper level than the mine was permitted to excavate?  How does the coordination occur between County and State over blasting?

The county allows (mining) a business they cannot control. The state Fire Marshall now controls blasting.  When I call Lee Cares to complain that blasting ruined my house, they tell me to call Tampa.

Who enforces the rules and conditions put on mines?  They seem to just do as they please regardless of the rules.

Who polices whether or not they have breached the confining layer of the aquifer? No one checks on this, they can go as deep as they want. Does the county know the depth of the confining layer?

The rules are not enforced.  The county should own their own seismographs.

I am concerned that the dirt mine on Corkscrew Road (that is also on the proposed map) has breached (nicked through digging or blasting) the confining layer for the aquifer. Water levels inside the pits are higher than in the wetlands and the ditches. Since the underlying aquifer has a greater pressure under the confining layers, wouldn’t nicking or opening the confining layer increase the water levels in the pits?

Request Staff contact USGS to do samples of the water quality and water levels. USGS can do an isotopic chloride analysis which will discriminate between sources of chloride (rain or water coming up from the aquifer beneath into the pits).

This will seriously jeopardize water quality for all residents in the area.

Proposed Mine Sites Map

Does the BoCC want to turn Corkscrew Road into Alico Road?

Inclusion of the Corkscrew to Hwy 82 corridor on the map will turn Corkscrew Road into an industrial area.

All potential mining sites on the map are the same color – brown.  There is an important difference. Several mines were approved only with many conditions due to objections from nearby land owners.  These mines are not compatible as signified by the conditions and objections. They should not be shown as brown (i.e. same as all other mines) on the proposed map.

The map does not reflect the ½ mile setback from Corkscrew  Road that was approved.

Strike the Corkscrew (and north to hwy 82) corridor from the map.  It is not in any way compatible with our residential use.

There  were no East Corkscrew Road community people at the meetings where these maps were first created.

Creation of even the proposed mining map has started a “gold rush of mining” on Corkscrew Road.  The mines make $165,000 net profit per acre. Bonita Bay has stopped it’s application for golf courses, put the property on the market, and is talking with Mining Companies about buying the land. So has another company. There will be applications now for mining all down Corkscrew Road. We won Schwab, but it cost us $50,000 to do it.  I just don’t have that kind of $$ to keep on fighting one mining application after another.

Concentrate the impact of mining in the historic areas.

Mining is incompatible with what we moved out here for and we were here first.

The 24-7 mining operation will create a noise problem for the surrounding residents.  The lights too will be a problem.

Establish a big set back between the mine and land which has a residence on it.  (Discussion ranging from ½ mile to 2 miles set back)

How Much Dirt And Rock Is Enough For Lee County?

We have 70 years of more of rock already permitted.  Why put more mine areas on the map beyond the historic mining areas where the limerock is best.

We are exporting the rock out of Lee County. So when someone asks “where will the rock come from to build in Lee County?”, the answer is it will come from what we’ve sent up to Sarasota County.

What percent of our rock gets sent out of Lee County?

Proposed Mine Areas Threaten Agriculture Uses

Corkscrew Plantation bought out all the orange groves around me. (Now they want to be put on the proposed mining map.) Citrus growers are having a hard enough time making a living as it is without adding mining.

East Corkscrew Road is Now Dangerous

2 inch ruts in East Corkscrew Road (i.e. east of Alico intersection) from the weight of the trucks and the excessive volume of truck traffic (from the currently permitted dirt mine). This is dangerous, especially when it rains.

You can no longer bike or walk safely on Corkscrew Road

The entrance to the mine site is very dangerous when it’s wet. You hydroplane through the mud.

The road is now too dangerous for kids to cross the street to catch the school bus.

Industrial Dump Truck Traffic

Aggressive, Rude, Dirt truck drivers

Trucks use Corkscrew Road with utter disregard for life or property.

That's 25 tons of dirt and steel right on your bumper. I can stop a lot quicker than they can.

The volume of trucks is overwhelming. I have to drive my kids to school every day because of the dangerous way the trucks drive around the school busses.

We are 10 miles east of I-75, we are all impacted.

A report was heard from a Retired Police Officer and resident who performed a truck count from his front porch on Corkscrew Road ½ mile west of the currently permitted dirt mine. On 20 May, 03 from 10:30 am to 4:30pm 744 dump trucks were counted in the 6 hour time period. On 21 May he observed trucks from 5:00am until 4:30pm and counted 1436 trucks on the two lane East Corkscrew Road.

In the mine’s traffic impact statement for their current permit they indicated the maximum number of trucks for their permitting would be 330 per day or 27.5 trucks per hour.

(This count represents an average of 124-125 trucks per hour or 2 trucks per minute. The highest truck volume/hour was 7am to 8am with 149 trucks or 2.5 trucks per minute. Between the hours of 6am to 3pm the volume of trucks per hour averaged 139. )

Who holds the mines accountable for the truck traffic?

If they don’t put dirt in the trucks the trucks don’t go.

A conversation with the Sheriff’s office was reported where the Lt. explained that sending an officer out to Corkscrew Road would do no good since once they issued one ticket the truckers would be on their radios and tell everyone to slow down until the sheriff went away. Then they would start speeding again. The officer explained that the DOT might come out to stop trucks to checks weights and other safety items and that he would try to organize this with the DOT.

East Corkscrew Road Rural Community

We have been here over 100 years.

We are a “planned development”.  We were planned by Lee County when they set up the DRGR at 1 house per 10 acres.

Environmental Impact

The mines have an environmental impact on our property. The wildlife is disappearing.  The otters don’t come out as much since the dirt mine went in. The wildlife is why we moved out here.

If this is a water recharge area they why is mining here? Mining leads to other industrial uses… and that’s something else altogether.  It doesn’t belong in the DRGR.

Don’t we think Florida is going to run out of water with all the development going on?

Mining dewatering dries up or affects other people’s property.

How can you tell what’s happening in the wetlands if there is no monitoring? 

What are the cumulative impacts of permitting all the land in the Corkscrew to 82 corridor? It is in environmentally sensitive land relative to CREW and Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. It is also in the proposed mitigation lands.

Protection for Current Residents

We are fighting big mining $.  The only thing standing between us and a mine ruining our homes is the BoCC.  Protect us.

We need to be protected by you (county staff and BoCC) from these people in the pursuit of $$$$$$$ and what they do to get it.

Urban sprawl is what brought us out here. 

County government does not want residents out here (in the DRGR) so they’ll put in mines to get rid of us.

Currently Permitted Dirt Mine on East Corkscrew Road

It is a visual blight.  It is noisy.

There is dirt all over the road from the trucks.

They do not control the drivers of the dump trucks.

It’s because of our experience with them that we know mining is totally incompatible with our land uses.

They aren’t doing what they said they would do.

My house shakes like a dishrag when they blast.

We have damage to our homes from the blasting.

The Mines Make $$$  But The Residents Pay

Our homeowners insurance doesn’t cover the damage to our homes from the blasting Westwind Corkscrew dirt mine does.

The water table is decreasing; we will have to dig deeper and deeper wells.

If the current dirt mine dewaters, we’ll lose our wells.

Our property values will decrease because of these mines.

You would not live on Devore Lane (near currently permitted Fla Rock Mines)

The continual blasting is terrible. There is no quality of life living there.

The mines should be made to buy out the homeowners close by.

You can’t live next to a mine.  The county should plan ahead of time so that people will know that’s a mining area and not move out there.

Wording of some of the LDC Changes

A lot of the proposed changes are good, spelling out the policies of the Lee Plan, serving the intention of the DRGR, and serving the residents of surrounding lands.

However, there are several places in the LDC where the wording is such that the current owners of surrounding lands would be silenced if they are left as they are. Words like abutting and adjacent land owners, and residentially zoned deny that most mines are within the DRGR and therefore will not be near residentially zoned acreage. Rather they will most likely be near agriculturally zoned with a residence. Restricting compatibility issues to abutting or adjacent land owners denies the significant distance of the mine impact.  (Specific citations are attached.)

Comments From the Wildcat Run Resident

The noise in Wildcat run from the dump truck traffic is so bad, it’s like we are living on I-75.

You can’t get out of Wildcat Run onto Corkscrew Road safely. A car will be trying to get out and 2 dump trucks will be passing another one right there at the entrance and exit to Wildcat Run.

With the property damage from blasting and the noise and danger of the dump trucks the residents here are worried that their property values are falling.

Summarizing Comments

We have compatibility issues, safety issues, and environmental issues with the proposed mining map that expands mines on Corkscrew Road and the corridor north to Hwy 82.

Mining is the highest, heaviest industrial use possible.

Mining is a permanent adverse alteration of the land.

Mining is incompatible with our established residential uses.

We want to maintain the quality of the land we live on.

We were here first.

Specific changes recommended for the proposed Land Development Code.
The meeting time ran out prior to the following specific comments on the LDC.

A lot of the proposed changes are good, like monitoring wetlands, the open space design plans, and the new performance and reclamation standards for example. As well, spelling out the specifics for the adverse impacts of dewatering and establishment of baseline data for groundwater and surface water monitoring  implements the policies of the Lee Plan, serves the intention of the DRGR, and serves the residents of surrounding lands.

 (refer to draft amendment0429.wpd 4/24/03 for the following comments)

page 64 of 83, 1673  add a provision for repeat offenders. The stipulation of a cease and desist order for a violation “until corrected” without a stipulation to revoke the permit of repeat offenders simply sets up a complaint-correction cycle as a way of doing business rather than a deterrent.

page 66 of 83, (3)  add cumulative impacts.

page 67 of 83, (4) Traffic impact statement.

Mines should be held accountable for staying within the limits of their approved truck trips on traffic impact statements.  Otherwise they can say anything they want during permitting to make the LOS look good, then do as they please after permitting is completed without regard to the truth of their original estimates. Development Orders should be rescinded if truck trips vary more than 10% from estimates.

A full traffic impact statement required of other IPD’s should be required for mines.  As evidenced by the current Westwind Corkscrew Mine, heavy industrial traffic proceeds through other areas of existing and proposed high development (i.e. Estero). Industrial traffic should be considered within the context of all other present and proposed traffic.

Page 69 of 83, d. Hours of operation.  Mines that have residences within 2 miles (regardless of the type of residence or zoning), should not be allowed to conduct mining activities (i.e. trucks entering or leaving the site with excavated materials, blasting, excavation, dragline operations, rock crushing, or any related industrial plants) on a 24 hour basis.

page 69 of 83, f. “…no adverse impacts to existing wellfields, nearby developed properties…”  In the DRGR the proposed or future wellfields should also be protected. By limiting adverse impacts to “developed” properties you will set up a legal battle between rural residents and the county. We choose to leave land undeveloped.  That is why we live here to be away from “development”. Our land should also be protected from adverse impacts even if we choose no development.

Page 73 of 83 (1) c. 1. “ be compatible with adjacent private and publicly owned lands with special consideration given to adjacent conservation owned lands; …”

The impact from the heavy industrial use of mining extends as far 6 miles for effects of blasting (with damage to structures occurring up to 2 mines) and along the entire length of any roadway when there is limited ingress or egress. Property owners in the mining-impacted areas should have a voice in determining compatibility. The word surrounding should be substituted for adjacent in both instances..

Same page (1) c. 2. “avoid adverse effects to existing abutting agricultural, residential..”   What this is saying is that mining can’t bother the property next door, but it’s ok to have adverse effects on the folks down the road a bit. Same reasoning as above: Both compatibility and adverse effects need to be accounted for within the actual impact area of the mine.

Same page (1) c 3.  Please add pollutants, particulate matter, toxic or noxious waste materials, noise, vibration, smoke, fire or explosive hazard, and health impacts to the list of adverse effects.  If you are saying that industrial plants auxiliary to mining are to be allowed then you need to account for these items as you have on page 49 of 83  #34-624, 1.

Page 74 of 83 (3) b. & 1. & 2.  “no crusher, mixing plant….. may be located less than 660 feet from any residentially zoned property use or 250 feet from all nonresidential zoning districts…”  Unless all residences in the DRGR are a “residentially zoned property use” then you have put us in a catch 22. You are effectively saying here that landowners who perform agriculture or otherwise choose to live a rural lifestyle are not adequately protected since they are not “residentially zoned”.  Have you ever heard a rock crusher ? After you hear rock being crushed you will then realize how inadequate 660 feet is for a setback. These operations need to be as far away from any land use on which there is a current or planned residence as possible.

Page 75 of 83 (6) maximum depth.  What is the penalty for blasting past the maximum excavation depth? The blasting is potentially the most injurious to the confining layer of the aquifer. What is the penalty for penetrating the confining layer? Confining layers (as evidenced in the test boring samples) are not like a sandwich –existing at the same level throughout the footprint of the mine. Looking at test boring results it appears that the location of the confining layer may vary by 1 to 50 or more feet (perhaps abruptly) at any given location. For example, while a pit is being dug the north end may reach the confining layer at 30 feet while the south end may be able to excavate to 75 feet before the confining layer is reached.  How is this measured?  What is measured to ensure that an excavated pit has not breached the confining layer and has not exceeded max depth in blasting or in excavation?

Page 77 of 83 (5) Please add the following statement: Damage directly attributable to this mining operation to the developed or undeveloped property of surrounding land owners must be repaired, replaced, or other wise compensated by the holder of the excavation/mining operation permit.     

One additional note: You might check with USGS; it is my understanding that they will store test boring samples. In our current analysis of “mining areas” and the suggested analysis of cumulative environmental impacts it would have been helpful to have had actual data (in the form of actual test borings) from which to draw conclusions. We should begin now to store current and future test boring samples for the next generation who will surely have questions -- needing a factual basis for answering -- which we cannot today anticipate.

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