News And Updates
Published By: HeraldTribune.com
MANATEE COUNTY — Fearing a $618 million lawsuit, Manatee County commissioners agreed today to reopen public hearings on phosphate giant Mosaic’s plan to mine a 2,000 acre parcel in North Manatee.
The move is a U-turn by the commission that in September voted down the plan 4-3 fearing that mining in the headwaters of Horse Creek, one of six major tributaries to the Peace River, could harm drinking water for Charlotte, Sarasota, Manatee and DeSoto counties.
With two of the commissioners who voted "no" not in office anymore, the move to reopen hearings passed easily, 5-2. Commissioners Joe McClash and Ron Getman, who both voted against the project in September, cast the dissenting votes.
The decision, will at least for now, spare the county from facing a $618 million lawsuit from Mosaic based on the company’s estimate of the worth of phosphate on the tract.
Mosaic in September gave the county 90 days to reconsider its decision or to go to court. That deadline would have come next week.
The county’s decision to reopen hearings does not guarantee the mine will be approved, but environmentalists fear the new more business-friendly commission will give the project a green light this time.
In exchange for the mining, Mosaic has vowed to build a new park and a fire station if the mining expansion is approved.