Vincent holds final public hearing before quarry vote

Published 10:22 pm Thursday, June 17, 2010

Hundreds crowded the Vincent Middle/High School auditorium June 17 to attend the final public hearing before the Vincent Town Council makes a decision on White Rock Quarries’ request to rezone 886 acres of land to accommodate a limestone quarry.

Of those hundreds, dozens stepped up to speak before the council, giving impassioned pleas for and against the proposed mining operation.

Vincent resident Sunni Montgomery spoke out against the quarry, saying the possible negative effects, such as soil erosion and sinkholes, outweigh the expected economic boon of tax revenues and 123 new jobs.

“I do not think the economic benefits of this quarry will outweigh what we’re going to have to fix,” she said.

Resident Mickey Kitchens said the proposed quarry would be close to where he lives, and he has no interest in being neighbors with a mining operation.

Kitchens read from a list of complaints compiled from South Florida residents who live close to a White Rock Quarries mining operation. The complaints were reported to fire marshals in South Florida.

“David Bennett. Mr. Bennett states that the blasting in the area is causing damage to his residence. He stated that he and 65 of his neighbors are ready to file a suit against White Rock Quarries for damage to their residences,” Kitchens said.

Addressing the council, Kitchens said town leaders should ask a simple question before deciding on a vote: “Would I want this next door to me?”

Vincent resident Mary Jordan said she supports the quarry because she feels local schools need help and adults need jobs.

“The children need something to keep their minds busy. Their parents need jobs,” she said, waving her ‘Yes to jobs’ placard. “I’m for the quarry and for the schools.”

Another quarry supporter said he felt the town would die without new tax revenues coming in.

“We have an opportunity to move forward and develop a plan for this town,” he said. “Unfortunately, we have a history of being left behind. It’s time for us to step forward into a new future.”

Vincent property owner Grady Gibbons said he feels the Vincent Town Council has already made their decision, and implored them to protect the citizens as much as possible by writing strong rules for White Rock to follow.

“Maybe I’m being pessimistic, but I think this vote is a done deal already,” he said, speaking directly to the council. “You, and only you, have the chance to protect the citizens of Vincent. This ordinance is your only chance.”

The Vincent Town Council will soon set a date to vote on White Rock’s zoning request.