Supporters and opponents of the Mosaic Company’s plans to expand mining operations in East Manatee will continue to make their respective cases to the Manatee County Commission on Monday.
At 10 a.m. Monday in the first floor commission chambers, Manatee County Commission’s public hearing regarding the Mosaic Company’s proposal for approval of its Master Mining Plan and the rezoning 3,596 acres of its Wingate East Property will continue. The commission could make a decision about whether to grant Mosaic’s request on Monday.
The land is currently zoned as agricultural, and the company is asking to rezone it to extraction. The Master Mining Plan details the setback waivers and special approvals required for mining in the Peace River Watershed Protection Overlay District.
Hundreds of supporters and opponents alike attended the commission’s special land use meeting on Thursday. The hearing will resume with public comment, and anyone will be afforded the opportunity to speak if they didn’t already address the commission on Thursday.
The majority of individuals addressing the commission Thursday spoke against the proposal. Many of the opponents at Thursday’s hearing had anti-Mosaic signs and gas masks that said “No.”
Before the commission members makes a decision, they need to make sure the issues are resolved, said Sandra Ripberger, who had a petition with more than 200 Manatee County residents’ signatures.
“There is strong concern about these plans and rezone,” she said. “It is time for Manatee County to take a critical look at the potential impact of phosphate mining.”
During Thursday’s public comment period, a couple residents spoke favorably of Mosaic.
East Manatee resident Carlyn O’Reilly, whose husband works for Mosaic, said Mosaic is a company that is a steward of the environment.
“The vote to expand the Wingate mine will impact thousands of jobs in Manatee County,” she said. “This vote will have a direct impact on my family’s future in Manatee County.”
Mosaic is already 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 Trace to the north.
In August, the planning commission recommended by a 5-1 vote to go forward with the rezoning for the Wingate East mine, with Matt Bower dissenting.
Should the county commission grant Mosaic’s request, the company still needs a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ permit. It would also have to go back before the commission for an operating permit, which maps out mining for a five-year period. Mining would take place at the site until 2034 with reclamation continuing until 2042.
This is Mosaic’s last big expansion in Manatee, said Mosaic spokeswoman Jackie Barron.
“It’s critical to the future of the mine,” she said.