Sand mine stirs dust and controversy in Polk community

Residents say their health and properties at stake

DAVENPORT, Fla. - A sand mine near Davenport that Polk County gave the green light to last fall has stirred up not only dust, but quite a bit of controversy.

Many of the residents surrounding the sand mining operation say the recently approved project will negatively impact their health, property values, and way of life.

"This is going to make us very, very sick," said MaryAnn Swistack, who lives near the facility.  "I don't want to be living in my house with a mask on."

Residents fear the dust is filled with dangerous toxins.

"We're just all frightened, that's all.  We're frightened," she said.

Some also feel there's a greater risk for the phenomenon that Floridians know all too much about.

"This is sitting over top a Florida aquifer, so the chance for a sinkhole are catastrophic," said Robert Allen, who lives nearby and rents out several other homes.

County Commissioner Melony Bell said she originally approved the project after doing her homework by touring the site and other similar operations.

"It was a tough decision," she said.

On Tuesday, she will listen to both sides again as the group of neighbors continues its fight. During a county commission meeting, the group will try to put a stop the project.

It already has a legal case pending.

"We're just going to try to keep fighting this," Swistack said. "We have to do something."

We left a message with the mining company, but did not receive a response.

If you want to have your voice heard, the county commission will discuss the issue during a meeting Tuesday morning at 9am in Bartow.

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