by Carol Mosley
HPSII, a small group of families with vast land holdings in Bradford and Union Counties, intend to mine thousands of acres straddling the New River that runs into the Santa Fe River, for phosphate rock. The rock will be shipped by rail to some other unfortunate town for processing.
While Union County, under moratorium from mining, updates their Land Development Regulations (LDRs) and Comprehensive Plan, Bradford County is unwisely collaborating with the mining company and an “independent” consulting firm (paid for by HPS) to determine if the preliminary plan submitted fits Bradford’s minimal LDRs.
Bradford did NOT enact a moratorium, and has been bound and gagged for the last two years. So this collaboration is a desperate attempt at breaking inaction. And the small county of Union has been faced with legal challenges from HPS that make it a David and Goliath fight.
Meanwhile, local interest groups and Alachua County officials are working to support Union in their brave attempt to protect the county’s resources and trying to help Bradford Commissioners see the deceptive manipulation they’ve been subjected to.
Between the various environmental advocacy groups they’ve submitted thousands of petition signatures, gotten Resolutions from most nearby cities and towns, prepared a professional geologist’s report on the process, met with the DEP in Tally, and even transcribed commission meetings and summarized communications from official documents requests. But still, the Bradford Commission seems to ignore evidence presented by the public and sees collaboration with Alachua County as prejudicial.
So the latest tack to help Bradford come to their senses has been to prepare notebooks for each commissioner and the County Clerk (making them public) that point out the deceptions of HPS representatives, the inappropriate coziness between “the county’s” consultants and the miners, and using their own Comp plan to point out their noncompliance with their own rules.
There have even been calls for Bradford to seek outside legal counsel instead of taking the advice of their in house attorney.
Bridges Across Borders is focusing on helping Bradford to operate in the world of reality by presenting them with evidence.
Our commissioners have been hoodwinked and blindfolded and we need to open their eyes to how they can actually follow their own guidelines and not climb in bed with HPS. They should tell HPS to go answer the questions that the DEP has been waiting for since December 2017, and don’t bother either county until they get through that agency.
Let HPS hire whomever they want to get the DEP answers and give Bradford an Environmental Impact Statement, but Bradford does not need to be involved with that.
Most importantly, Objective V.3 of the Bradford Comp Plan says that the County will “Establish a process by which adjacent local governments, other governmental agencies, and research and interest groups have input into the identification and preservation of unique vegetative communities.”
So your mission, if you are a member of one of the groups above, is to help gather evidence and research so that bad decisions can’t be made using the excuse of lack of information. Let’s peel off their layers of cover until they are standing naked with only the sheer brocade spun of their own deceptions.
Got an idea how you can help? Email Carol at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bridges Across Borders, PO Box 103, Graham, FL 32042 D