With a week to go before the Baker County Commission considers approval of two sand mining proposals, ongoing reviews of the mining plans by regulators and a consultant commissioned by the county and paid for by the mining companies both appear far from finished.
The commission delayed voting on the mining projects last June and some board members have said they want to gather as much information as possible before making a final decision.
Nonetheless, commissioners remain set to consider on August 20 two zoning exceptions sought by the mining companies, County Manager C.J. Thompson confirmed early this week.
If approved, the zoning exceptions would allow mining to occur on property zoned agriculture, which generally prohibits the activity.
The county’s land development regulations require that the mining companies — Old Castle Southern Group of Tampa and E.R. Jahna, Inc. of Lake Wales, FL — also obtain permits from regulatory agencies before beginning operations.
Old Castle Southern was the first to apply for a 20-year Consumptive Use Permit from the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) to withdraw about 2 million gallons per day from the lower Floridan Aquifer during the first five years of mining and about 100,000 gallons per day for the next 15 years.