Alleged illegal mining probed

Alleged illegal mining probed

Sunday, August 6th 2006

Putnam County code enforcers are investigating alleged illegal mining in West Putnam on a property denied for mining by Florida Rock last year.

The property owned by Florida Rock was seen being mined by workers without permission. Neighbors and a code enforcement representative witnessed the activity.

Code Enforce-ment Manager John Salmons confirmed Friday that workers were seen mining on the property but he is not sure if it was Florida Rock workers.

Salmons said Lisa Suarez of code enforcement saw people digging and issued a stop work order Thursday. She saw a large hole dug and several trucks coming in and out. They were digging near a body of water, according to Salmons. Suarez was not available for comment.

If the property is still being mined Monday, Salmons said he will get with County Attorney Russ Castleberry to issue an injunction. ”That will stop work until we can find out what’s going on,” said Salmons.

He said they are trying to reach Florida Rock’s attorney to find out if it was its people mining.

Phillip Cathlino, president of the West Putnam Lake Region Association, which formed to oppose the land use change, said he filmed the workers and had aerial shots taken of their activity. Cathlino said the video was shown to Commissioner Brad Purcell and he inturn got code enforcement involved.

Purcell was not available for comment at press time.

”All the neighbors could hear machinery, but couldn’t figure out what is was. Trees were cut down and used as barriers to hide the noise and work they were doing,” said Cathlino.

The land is over 600 acres and has three lakes. Cathlino witnessed the miners working very close to the lake. ”It looked like they were going to go into it, like they’re putting an electric dredge in there,” said Cathlino.

Salmons said code enforcement will report the miners to the special codes magistrate and/or to the Board of County Commissioners for a larger penalty.

”I think they should be put in jail,” said Cathlino. They’re not supposed to even stick a shovel in the ground, much less what they’ve done. There’s no zoning there for that. This neighborhood spent over $40,000 to stop this and it feels like it’s all in vain.”

Salmons said Monday they will know who the workers are and who they are with. Further action can then be taken.

”We need some questions answered,” said Cathlino. ”Why are they here? Do they have permits? Why are they disregarding the commissioners’ decision?” said Cathlino. ”We’re flabbergasted. They’ve tried to sneak in here and do this to us. They’re sneaking in somewhere. They’re not coming down any road. Somebody needs to answer to this and for this.”


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