Cemex sues over Florida sand mine

Cemex is pushing to overturn opposition to its planned sand mine in Clermont, Lake County, Florida.

Cemex and Lake Louisa, which owns the property where the sand mine would be situated, have filed a lawsuit against Lake County, the city of Clermont and several landowners, including a blueberry farmer opposed to the proposed sand mine in the center of the Wellness Way Sector Plan, after the County Commission denied their application.

Commissioners voted down the mine 3-2 on March 24, with supporters of the mine arguing it came down to protecting private property rights and others stating the proposed sand mine infringed on adjoining property owners’ rights and would negatively impact economic development efforts including the Wellness Way Sector Plan.

Cemex petitioned the court to reject the commissioners’ denial of the application because “the overwhelming evidence offered at the hearing supported approval of the transitional sand mining operation under the current Comprehensive Plan, with the primary basis for opposition premised on a not-yet-adopted sector plan and unconstitutional action by the governing body in an adjacent county,” according to the lawsuit.

The Orange County Commission made a decision on the morning of March 24 opposing Cemex’s plan to direct large trucks east on Schofield Road toward Orange County.

Roger Sims, the lawyer for Cemex, argued in the lawsuit the County Commission “deprived petitioners of procedural due process of law by its reliance on action taken by” the Orange County Commission.

“This resolution was obviously passed to interfere with Cemex’s access to the site,” he wrote. “Opposition counsel, Kurt Ardaman, admitted on the record at the BOCC hearing that he discussed this issue with Orange County commissioners and specifically asked them to impose restrictions on Schofield Road to prevent access to the Cemex mine.”

“Considering the fact that only a segment of Schofield Road was designated for weight restrictions, and no limits were imposed on any of the land owners east of the designated segment, confirms that the only purpose of the Orange County Resolution was to block Cemex’s access to the public roadway system and thus defeat the project,” he continued.

Sims wrote regardless of Orange County’s decision to prohibit trucks on Schofield Road, the issue of “access is one Cemex is entitled to address later.”

Moreover, Sims wrote the County Commission “departed from the essential requirements of the law when they improperly relied on the proposed Sector Plan” as basis for denial of the application.

He cited Florida Statutes Section 163.3197, which states, “A previously adopted comprehensive plan shall be in effect until a new plan is adopted.”

Commissioners Leslie Campione and Tim Sullivan, who voted for the sand mine, previously said they believed the application could have been approved with conditions in place that would have prevented harming the surrounding area.

During the March 24 meeting, Sullivan proposed several new conditions that must be met by Cemex, such as removing the phase of the operation next to Southern Hill Farms, a blueberry farm.


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