Cemex representatives are confident they will win a lawsuit they filed against Lake County for denying their application for a 1,196-acre sand mine outside Clermont, Florida.
The county rejected Cemex’s application in March, saying the mine was incompatible with the Wellness Way Sector Plan, a 16,000-acre development that commissioners and the city of Clermont hope to create in southeast Lake County to attract high-end medical business and related industries.
The company filed suit immediately after the county rejected the mine plan, arguing that the county cannot deny based on a development plan that does not yet exist. Cemex also argues Lake County, at least in part, based its decision on Orange County’s objection without giving Cemex due process.
But beyond the legal questions surrounding the mine and Wellness Way, the company is troubled by what it believes are misconceptions about the mine. In a wide-ranging interview with the Daily Commercial recently, Cemex representatives expressed frustration that the health, safety and noise impacts of the mine on the surrounding area have been grossly exaggerated by opponents and government leaders.
“The project plans and site, we feel, coexist harmoniously with the Wellness Way Sector Plan,” said Tracy Mouncey, a consultant for Cemex. “From the timelines we have seen with Wellness Way, our operations would almost be complete by the time Wellness Way is up and running.”
“Our goal is to be part of the Sector Plan and build it out,” Mouncey added. “We feel with the conditions we proposed, the buffering and green space, you won’t even know we are there.”
The sector plan would transform 16,000 acres in the southeast corner of the county into a hub for high-tech health care jobs and other industries.
The proposed mine is squarely in the middle of this area. Cemex hopes to excavate construction aggregate on 568 acres of the 1,196-acre tract southeast of the intersection of US Highway 27 and Schofield Road.
The operation would have minimal impact on traffic and there would be no reduction of the aquifer, Cemex officials added.
The proposed mine sits atop a ridge of sand that is ideal as road construction aggregate.
“In the state of Florida, it is a finite resource,” Mouncey said. “It is only found in the Lake Wales Ridge.”