Manatee County commissioners began their quasi-judicial public hearing regarding The Mosaic Company’s proposal for the approval of their Master Mining Plan and the rezoning 3,596 acres of its Wingate East property Thursday.
The land is currently zoned as agricultural, and the company is asking it be rezoned for extraction. Their Master Mining Plan details the approval of the plan, asking for setback waivers and special approval for mining in the Peace River Watershed Protection Overlay District.
Mosaic is currently zoned to mine 20,237 acres in Manatee County. Adjacent to the proposed Wingate East mine are Wingate Creek to the west and the Southeast Tract to the north.
The Wingate East approval is first priority for the company. Next on the list will be receiving permits from Hardee and DeSoto counties for the new Ona and DeSoto mines, which are 22,483 acres and 18,287 acres, respectfully.
Historically, Mosaic has gotten their rezoning proposals approved by the county commission. In 2008, the county commission initially rejected the rezoning of the Altman Tract – Parcel 4, which is adjacent to the Four Corners mine. Mosaic returned the blow with a lawsuit citing the Bert Harris Act involving property rights, then the suit was dropped and the rezoning was approved.
In August, the planning commission approved 5-1 to go forward with the rezoning, with Matt Bower dissenting.
During their 90-minute presentation, eight people representing Mosaic discussed topics ranging from specifics of the mining process to health concerns to translocating species found onsite.
Sixty-eight people signed up to speak during public comment, according to Commissioner Robin DiSabatino.
Before the hearing began, more 100 people lined up outside of the county administration building. Mosaic employees said they lined up around 6:30 a.m. and hi-vis Mosaic shirts dominated the front of the line. Manatee County residents and out-of-towners came to the hearing to express their concerns about Mosaic’s expansion in Florida.