Three Manatee County residents are challenging the county commission’s decision last month to approve Mosaic’s request for expanded phosphate mining in East Manatee.
Deborah and Richard Mafera along with Garrett Ramy on March 17 asked the 12th Judicial Circuit court to overturn the county’s decision. They are represented by attorney Ralf Brookes.
“Petitioners in this case respectfully request this court reverse and remand the actions of the Board on the grounds that the Board: failed to provide procedural due process, and failed to comply with the essential requirements of the law,” court documents state.
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The legal challenge requesting the court “quash the rezoning” comes after the commission last month approved both a request to rezone 3,596 acres of Mosaic’s Wingate East property for mining, as well as the Master Mining Plan.
Mosaic Fertilizer LLC is listed as an interested person in the case.
“Petitioners are adjoining property owners who will be adversely affected by the rezoning, and were not given sufficient time in which to present their testimony and evidence,” the petition states.
After the Feb. 15 hearing, Richard Mafera said they were going to “take it one step at a time.”
“I’m not giving up the fight, that’s for sure,” he said. “The people got stepped on and we got to come to Mosaic’s kangaroo court, bought and paid for.”
On Tuesday afternoon, Assistant County Attorney Bill Clague notified commissioners that the development order for the Wingate East phosphate mine was signed Tuesday.
“The thirty-day time frame for a legal challenge pursuant to Florida Statute 163.3215 commences today and expires on April 27,” Clague said in the email. “Regardless of the expiration of the above described thirty-day time period, Mr. Palmer informed you by email of March 20 that the County has received a legal challenge to the decision of the Board to approve the application. In accordance with the standing practice of this office, we advise you to refrain from discussing the matter while that litigation is proceeding.”
Earlier this month, four conservation organizations sued two government agencies for authorizing more acres to be mined. Center for Biological Diversity, People for Protecting Peace River, ManaSota-88 and Suncoast Waterkeeper filed the suit in the U.S. District Court in Tampa against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Fish Wildlife Service for “authorizing 50,000 acres of phosphate strip mining that would irreversibly destroy native plant and animal habitat in central Florida,” a news release states.