Judge rejects claim for damages over rock mining plans

Nearly a year after a Lee Circuit judge rejected a claim for damages by a landowner who sued over its rejected rock mining plans, a state appeals court has denied the owner’s appeal.

The Second District Court of Appeal in Lakeland this week issued a one-sentence ruling denying Resource Conservation Holdings attempt to have its legal bills paid by county taxpayers.

“Lee County saved its tax payers $70,000,000 trying and winning the case in Circuit Court and on appeal,” said Andrea R. Fraser, the interim Lee County attorney.

Resource Conservation Holdings owns more than 1,300 acres in eastern Lee County along Corkscrew Road and wanted it rezoned to allow mining on 400 acres. The company sued after it was denied, alleging it spent $47 million on the land, then spent more after its legal fight.

A hearing examiner recommended rezoning approval, but county commissioners in 2010 turned that down, saying it would harm the environment and nearby homeowners. The land is in an area that has since been declared off limits to mining.

The lawsuit didn’t fight the rezoning rejection but sought compensation from the county on grounds that the county’s decision amounted to a “taking” of its land. Last May, Circuit Court Judge Sherra Winesett found it was not a “taking,” partly because the company didn’t have a “reasonable investment-backed expectation” to be able to mine the land — and because it can use the land in other ways.

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