Mosaic Fertilizer LLC's request to begin mining nearly 3,600-acre Mosaic Wingate East mine in East Manatee will not be considered by the county commission until January.
On Friday afternoon, Hugh McGuire, attorney for Mosaic, sent an email to Manatee County requesting the hearing scheduled for Sept. 29 for the rezoning request and Mining Master Plan to be rescheduled to January.
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“At the request of the applicant, the September 29, 2016, Mosaic application meeting has been canceled,” stated an email sent Monday morning from John Barnott, the county's building and development services director, to commissioners. “This application will need to be advertised for the new date of January 26, 2017, by the applicant.”
Mosaic spokeswoman Jackie Barron said the decision to change the hearing date has nothing to do with a sinkhole that opened up at the Mosaic Co.'s Mulberry, Fla., facility last week. The sinkhole at the Polk County phosphate mine dumped nearly 200 million gallons of slightly radioactive water into the ground.
“The two are completely separate,” Barron said. “There was some calendar issues. The county was pretty stacked up and we're not.” Barron said Mosaic initiated rescheduling the meeting because after the Aug. 18 planning and zoning hearing “went longer than they thought.”
“We want to make sure there's enough time for the hearing,” she said. “We realized that we would probably need two days for the BOCC hearing.” Mosaic officials did not want to separate the hearing into two days unless they were consecutive, Barron said, and Manatee County didn’t have a two-day block available until January.
County government spokesman Nick Azarra said Mosaic’s request was the only item on the commission’s agenda for Sept. 29. The Sept. 29 land use meeting was specially scheduled for the Mosaic request.
The planning commission voted 5-1 in August to recommend approval for the rezoning request and Mining Master Plan.
Mosaic requested to rezone 3,595.99 acres of its property from agriculture to extraction, which when paired with the approval of its Master Mining Plan, would then allow for phosphate mining.
The company already mines on a portion of the land they want to rezone. This approval would allow Mosaic to mine and disturb 3,841 acres through Sept. 15, 2034, and reclaim that land, or restore it to a natural state, through 2042.