Town Hall Meeting Helps to Inform Community About Proposed M Ranch Mine
FORT PIERCE — Traffic, safety and potential environmental damage were on the minds of some 100 people who turned out Wednesday for a town hall meeting on a proposed coquina rock mine in western St. Lucie County.
Many have lived in the area for years, especially on Carlton Road, which runs through an agricultural area.
"We have some really valid concerns about the quality of our water, our health conditions, our crops, our animals," said Melissa Jaques, 35, who's lived on Glades Cut Off Road for more than seven years.
The 164-acre mine would be just north of Glades Cut Off Road. It would provide construction materials for more than 30,000 homes planned within 10 miles and operate for seven to 10 years, according to county documents.
Opposition from residents
Jaques raised concerns about the impact the mine would have on traffic and accessibility for emergency vehicles, because the Carlton Road community already is far removed from county fire stations.
"For 150-plus trucks to come through that area and unload, what does that actually look like?" she asked.
An estimated 184 trucks would come through the mine each day, according to documents presented at the meeting by M Ranch, its developer. The mine would create about a 4% increase in traffic, according to a traffic-impact report commissioned by the developer.
The excess traffic would be routed along a new haul road separate from Carlton Road. Townsend, however, said the county would evaluate safety concerns regarding emergency-vehicle access.
"That's part of the process," Townsend said. "If the fire department feels that it's a high risk, the project is not approved."
Residents also raised concerns about dust kicked up from the mine and by the trucks, and how the mine could impact their wells, aquifers and agriculture, such as a nearby tropical fish farm.
"I've got toddlers," said Craig Stokes, 35, who's lived on Carlton Road for about six years. "The dust — what's that going to do to their respiratory systems?"
For their part, developers said landscape buffers would address the concerns about dust and also about noise.
"The idea of the buffer is to counter some of the noise that the mine has, and the second thing is to make sure we don't have any dust impacts out there," said Joe Capra, M Ranch civil engineer.
The haul road would be made of asphalt, rather than gravel, Capra said, in an effort to minimize dust.
The only water discharged water from the mine, according to M Ranch and its developers, would be treated storm water that meets or exceeds requirements of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and South Florida Water Management District.
M Ranch spans 2,300 acres and is managed by Anthony Mastroianni, who works for Allied Capital and Development of South Florida. The mine would cover 164 acres, using 80 acres for excavation.
The mine would produce coquina rock, which is made of limestone and shell fragments and is a valuable resource needed for new housing developments, according to M Ranch.
The mine would operate eight hours a day, six days a week, according to Capra. After seven to 10 years of operation, the 80-acre excavated site would be converted to a water-reclamation project.
The project has yet to come to the County Commission for permitting and other approvals.
"I think we've brought some extremely valid questions to the table," Jaques said, "some super-duper concerns that should raise the eyebrows of everyone in the county."