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Wednesday, June 04, 2003
Dear Friends and Neighbors of the East Corkscrew Road Rural Community,
Many of you are concerned about the damage to your homes as a result of blasting at local limerock mines, and the danger that increasing dump truck traffic brings to Corkscrew Road. As well’ some of you share an interest in ensuring the preservation of the fragile ecosystem, wildlife habitat, conservation lands, and the historical community in the Corkscrew area.
It seems probable that we may experience intensification of these and other mining-related nuisances if increased mining is supported as planned. We are asking you to carefully consider the proposed increase in mining activity on Corkscrew Road. Next consider the effects of this increased activity on your health and safety, quality of life, the aesthetics of your land and surrounding land, property values, traffic, noise, potential pollution and other nuisances, as well as the fragile ecosystem that many of us prize in southeast Lee County. If you oppose the increase in mining activity on Corkscrew Road you can help to stop this expansion by speaking out at the evening Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) meetings on June 10th at 5:00pm and again on June 24th .
These meetings are held at Commission Chambers,
2120 Main Street, --the old courthouse-- downtown Fort Myers. See agenda
at by scrolling down to the bottom of the page at
What will cause an increase in mining activity?
There are two parallel activities currently occurring that will lead to more mining activity (and therefore more trucks and blasting along Corkscrew Road):
1.) Legislative changes to the Land Development Code for Lee County
2.) A hearing on the application by Westwind Corkscrew Mine to expand to limerock mining and include industrial plants. (Trucks from this mine travel west down Corkscrew Road.)
Approval of either of these events will result in allowing more limerock mines to be permitted and operate along Corkscrew Road. Limerock mining is the heaviest of industrial uses bringing industrial truck traffic, pollution, noise, blasting and other nuisances which we believe threaten our quality of life.
Land Development Code Changes
On June 10th and June 24th, the Lee County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) will consider, and possibly adopt pending Land Development Code (legislative) changes. These were proposed in response to the BoCC’s request to identify areas of limerock mining that would not cause conflict between residents and mining companies. One part of the proposed LDC changes would create a “mining map” designating traditionally mined areas as well as new parcels on East Corkscrew Road as "presumed compatible” with limerock mining. “Presumed compatibility” would silence residents’ incompatibility objections (like blasting, truck traffic, air emissions, and other industrial hazards) and make permitting in these designated sections very easy. Other nearby land parcels on Corkscrew Road would still be considered for re-zoning to mining operations even if they are not on the designated map.
Already the “gold rush” of mining has started along East Corkscrew Road. An attorney representing Westwind Corkscrew Mine has proposed adding over 5 land sections (640 acres each) to the east, north and southeast of the Westwind mine. Additionally 2 large land owners on Corkscrew Road have withdrawn Golf Course applications and put their property up for sale to mining interests. (See the website www.corkscrewroad.com for a map of proposed mining areas and a map of additional areas the attorney for the miners is trying to add to the proposal. http://www.corkscrewroad.com/westwind/miningmap.htm . The additional lands that were previously slated for golf courses make up more than 1500 acres west of those on this proposed mining map.)
While some of the proposed changes in this Code are excellent (i.e. monitoring wetlands, the open space design plans, the new performance and reclamation standards, and establishment of baseline data for groundwater and surface water monitoring) other wording in the document either presumes the land on a “mining map” compatible with mining (despite nearby residences) or restricts consideration of mining’s adverse impacts to adjacent or abutting property owners when the lands are not on the compatibility mining map. In other words owners of lands not on the map will also be able to apply to become mines and your voice in the matter will be limited unless you own adjoining property; or the lands will be on the map and your voice will be silenced.
It is apparent from the personal experience of many residents that the impacts of mining can be felt 2+ miles away for blasting damage and 10+ miles away from the mine site for overwhelming dump truck traffic. Over the last several years residents near the Bonita Mine, Briarcliff residents near the Alico Mine, Wildcat Run Residents, and residents in North Ft Myers have all suffered damage and incompatibility from mining. We contend that all residents who are within the impact area of the mine should have a voice in the permitting of such a heavy industrial use. If you also believe this, now is time to exercise your voice as a citizen and say so at the BoCC meetings on June 10th and June 24th.
Oppose the Request to Change Westwind from a Dirt Mine to Limerock,
The second action which will legitimize and set a precedent for more limerock mining on Corkscrew Road is the request for a zoning amendment to expand the Westwind Corkscrew Mine. On June 26th, a hearing will be held to amend the Industrial Planned Development (IPD) for the existing dirt mine on East Corkscrew Road. Westwind Corkscrew Mine (also known as Corkscrew Mining Ventures, Corkscrew Mining and Excavation, Westwind Contracting, and Westwind Resources) would like to become a limerock mine by excavating and blasting to 95’ (they currently can blast and dig dirt to 50 feet), conducting on-site dewatering, and adding industrial plants -- an asphalt plant, an air curtain incinerator, a cement block plant, a redi-mix cement plant, and an aggregate yard for crushing rock. ( Location is Township 46-Range 27-Sections east part of 22 and west part of 23). This zoning amendment would turn East Corkscrew Road into the same sort of industrial area that exists on Alico Road Extension. Drive out to the Alico Road extension to see it. (Driving directions: From Corkscrew Road turn north at the Alico Road connection and proceed until the next intersection. You will pass Younquist Mine on your right. When Alico turns west (left), you turn east (right) and follow the Florida Rock signs until you reach the industrial plants and mines.)
The impacts from the Westwind Corkscrew mine are already far beyond what they projected during their 2001 permitting. The impacts are overwhelming for surrounding land owners. For example an East Corkscrew Road resident counted 1436 dump trucks IN ONE DAY passing by his front porch. Their Traffic Impact Statement claimed approximately 320 would be the maximum number of daily trucks. While truck traffic will vary depending on the contracts and projects it is clear that Westwind will load as many trucks as they can in any given day regardless of the impact to surrounding lands, roads, safety and residents.
Even if the “map of mining areas” is defeated on June 10th and June 24th, granting the permit for this particular mine to dig deeper and add industrial plants will continue and intensify the “gold rush” for mining on Corkscrew Road. It appears that Limerock Mining NETS $165,000 per acre. (Westwind Mine is 600+ acres which -- at these figures-- would be $99,000,000 net profit.) We think this means most of the large land owners will sell out to limerock mining interests. This could potentially add 5500+ additional acres of mines along east Corkscrew Road. Do the math. Count the trucks you will be dodging to drive along Corkscrew Road. Count the $$ in mining interests that will pursue applications for additional mining land. Unless we have a very deep pocket from which to draw for litigation against repeated future mining applications we need to act now to STOP LIMEROCK MINING ON CORKSCREW ROAD. Keep Corkscrew Road residential and leave industrial traffic on Alico Road.
Under the current legal standard, citizen testimony in a zoning matter is perfectly permissible and constitutes substantial competent evidence, so long as it is fact-based as opposed to general statements of concern or opposition. Facts include aesthetics, community character, dangers of truck traffic and industrial uses, actual events that have occurred, damage to you home, property values, visual impacts, light pollution, noise impacts, health hazards, etc…in short all compatibility issues.
You may appear at the zoning hearing before the Hearing Examiner at the Community Development/ Public Works Building, 1500 Monroe Street at the June 26th scheduled hearing to make your statements. Call 479-8585 to verify time, date and location . Also check the website http://www.leegov.com/dcd/ for directions and for the Public Participation Guide. Before attending this meeting verify that the times, etc, have not changed. The applicant – Westwind Corkscrew Mine (alias Corkscrew Mining Ventures) can postpone the hearing at any time up to the last minute.
If you oppose the increase in mining activity on Corkscrew Road you can help to stop this expansion by speaking out at the evening Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) meetings on June 10th at 5:00pm and again on June 24th . Also you can make your voice heard by offering factual testimony about the impacts of limerock mining at the Westwind Corkscrew Mine hearing on June 26th. For more information go to the www.corkscrewroad.com website. This is a site for the citizens of East Corkscrew Road Rural Community who are trying to preserve their quality of life and their community. Sign up for the “neighbors” mailing list if you support our efforts and are a land owner east of the Alico Corkscrew intersection in the East Corkscrew Road Rural Community/ Corkscrew Settlement. Sign up for the “friends” mailing list if you support our efforts to stop mining on East Corkscrew Road.
The costs associated with our legal efforts to stop the industrial sprawl of limerock mining from affecting Corkscrew Road landowners are mounting. If you would like to help by contributing money to spread the burden of costs among all those affected by mining please send donations to Ralf Brookes, Attorney, 1217 East Cape Coral Parkway #107 Cape Coral, Florida 33904. Put Corkscrew Mine Opposition in the memo (for) section. We are looking for 50 people who will contribute $1,000 each. However, any amount will be welcome and will help defray costs. Thank you.
Peggy Apgar’Schmidt and Richard E. Schmidt
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