More than 100 people turned out last week to fight the development of a 1,196-acre sand mine outside Clermont.
Organizers said the meeting’s intent was to kick off the formation of what they’ve dubbed “The South Lake Citizen’s Coalition,” a group of locals they hope will band together to represent common views when it comes to causes that could impact residents and their communities. In this case, organizers are asking citizens to stand up publicly against the sand mine.
According to Clermont City Councilman Ray Goodgame, if Cemex is granted a zoning change for the sand and gravel operation, it could doom the 16,000-acre Wellness Way Sector Plan, an area where county officials envision companies with high-paying jobs in the medical field.
“If we let a sand mine come in and destroy the sector plan, we’d be ashamed of ourselves,” Goodgame said during the meeting.
The Clermont City Council and City Manager Darren Gray, a former Lake County manager, oppose the sand mine project. The meeting at the Clermont Community Center was chaired by Jack Martin, a former past president of the King’s Ridge Homeowners Association, where residents expressed concerns about traffic, noise and dust from the sand mine.
Residents believe as many as 300 trucks a day will haul sand and gravel from the mine to the many road-building projects Cemex is involved with in Central Florida. The company recently asked Hernando County officials for permission to expand Cemex’s 730-acre mining operation near Brooksville to keep up with demand for their material.
Martin said residents are not opposed to Cemex as a company.
Wellness Way received its name from the desire to attract health, fitness, biomedical research and related industries to the area, capitalizing on the existing triathlon and health/fitness industries in South Lake. County officials and key stakeholders in the area envision the area to be a major employment center for Central Florida, anchored by compact urban-growth centers, and surrounded by rolling hills and lakes.
W ellness Way covers a huge tract east of U.S. Highway 27 along the Orange County border, running from south from State Road 50 to U.S. Highway 192. It has been called the largest tract of undeveloped land left in Lake County.
Besides, traffic, noise and dust, sand-mine opponents have concerns about the project deterring other businesses from relocating to the area, and harming the environment and water table.
CEMEX’s application says the mine will be situated on abandoned agricultural land and that excavation only would occur on 623 acres of the site. Mining over 30 years will take place in phases of 100 acres or less and all mined areas will be reclaimed, the application states.
Sara Engdahl, director of communications for Cemex, previously said the mine would have no effect on water and would aid in economic development, bringing in at least $4.7 million a year.
County commissioners will address the sand mine at 1:30 p. m. on May 20 at the old courthouse building in Tavares.