Sand mining company Old Castle Southern Group has been on the offensive in recent weeks meeting with government officials, business owners and others in preparation for the upcoming hearing before the Baker County Commission.
The county has moved the August 20 hearing on the Tampa-based company’s proposal to the courthouse in anticipation of a large crowd attending the 6 pm meeting.
Last June commissioners delayed consideration of zoning exceptions to accommodate Old Castle’s mining plans and those of another firm, E.R. Jahna, Inc. of Lake Wales, for two months.
That’s when a group of concerned residents launched a campaign to spur opposition to the plans and pressure commissioners, three of whom are up for re-election this year, to vote against the exception applications.
Old Castle and Jahna hope to mine hundreds of acres at two sites southeast and northeast of Macclenny, respectively, during the next several decades. They must obtain the exceptions because mining is not generally permitted in the agricultural zoning districts where the tracts are located.
Both properties have historically been used for timber production.
In the meantime, Old Castle hired Elizabeth Revell, a public relations consultant from Fernandina Beach with experience helping companies combat the often negative perception of the mining industry.