MANATEE -- An existing phosphate mine in Duette, already spanning almost 12,000 acres, will be expanded.
At Tuesday's meeting, Manatee County Commission approved a request by Mosaic Fertilizer to rezone 272 acres to extraction to allow phosphate mining and a Master Mining Plan, allowing for mining the resource at the site.
Commissioner Robin DiSabatino was the lone dissenter on both motions after an extensive public hearing.
Of the parcel -- formerly owned by Wish Farms subsidiary G&D Farms -- 256 acres will be mined, which is planned for 2016-17.
"The site is a logical extension of Four Corners Mine," Hugh McGuire with Mosaic said.
Manatee County has the most stringent ordinance in the state when it comes to phosphate mining, according to Rob Brown with the Parks and Natural Resources Department.
Many Manatee County residents voiced concerns at the meeting.
Jo Williams said by mining the land, Mosaic "wants to displace the land that nourishes the soil."
"I find it thoroughly disheartening that Mosaic is calling for not only more land in Manatee County but it wants prime organic farmland," she said.
While Mosaic said it was never organic farmland, the site at the northwest intersection of State Road 62 and County Road 39 is close to Duette Preserve, which Williams said would be in danger. According to a county official, Duette Preserve was purchased to preserve the watershed from mining.
"The repercussions of mining doesn't stop in the tiny little place that (Mosaic) shows you," she said. "I think Duette (Preserve) is in danger because it is close to that mine."
Parrish resident Don Rice, a retired hydrologist, provided a map to the commission to highlight his concerns.
"This is a very sensitive area," he said. "It is a sensitive area to Little Manatee River and Manatee River."
Commissioner Carol Whitmore said mining has been going on in Manatee County since the 1970s.
"We at least have to recognize it whether we like mining or not," she said.
Commissioners Vanessa Baugh, Betsy Benac, John Chappie and Charles Smith joined Whitmore in voting to grant Mosaic's requests. Commissioner Larry Bustle was absent. Mosaic owns about 15,000 acres in Manatee County, according to Bart Arrington with Mosaic.
"We have purchased land in anticipation of mining," he said, adding they will come back to the commission to ask permission to mine it in the future.
The commission also approved:
A request made by the applicant to reconsider denial of rezoning the old Palm View Hills Golf Course. The commission denied the request last Thursday to allow more dense development. The proposal will be readvertised and another public hearing scheduled.
The Bradenton Area Convention & Visitors Bureau marketing plan and budget for fiscal years 2016-17. The department will spend $5.34 million in fiscal 2016 and $7.4 million in fiscal 2017, which includes $2.3 million for the 2017 World Rowing Championships.
Setting a public hearing to rename the Manatee County historic courtoom after late Clerk of Court R.B. "Chips" Shore, who passed away July 29. The county Twitter feed indicates the public hearing is Aug. 25.
Claire Aronson, Manatee County reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7024 or at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @Claire_Aronson.