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Manatee County votes 5-2 to approve Mosaic phosphate mine

In a series of 5-2 votes, the Manatee County Commission on Wednesday approved a rezoning and a master mining plan so Mosaic Fertilizer can extend its phosphate mining operations in the Myakka-Duette area to its Wingate East property.

Commissioners Betsy Benac, Vanessa Baugh, Stephen Jonsson, Priscilla Whisenant Trace and Carol Whitmore formed the majority. They added the caveat that "waivers" Mosaic requested for reduced setbacks from the mining operation from Duette Road, Duette Preserve and off-site wetlands be denied. Mosaic agreed to the conditions.

Commissioners Charles Smith and Robin DiSabatino cast dissenting votes. Smith made a previous motion to deny both the rezoning and mine plan, with DiSabatino being the only other vote in favor.

Benac told environmentalists, neighbors and others who spoke against the mine that the commission was not deciding "a popularity contest." She said Mosaic could sue the county if it denied the project. "The fact of the matter is they have property rights."