At the Nov. 21 county meeting, Carrabelle businessman Gene Langston asked commissioners for support to open a mine on public land but none was forthcoming.
Langston and his son Chris appeared before commissioners requesting a letter of support for a project to mine sand and fossil shell in the Tate's Hell State Forest but commissioners refused.
The Langstons brought samples of the fossilized shell they said they hoped to mine at a site north of Carrabelle near County Road 67. When commissioners failed to produce a motion to support the project, Gene Langston accused Commissioner Cheryl Sanders of “stall tactics.”
“I have not spoken to anyone," Sanders responded. "I will not sit here and have you insinuate that I broke the Sunshine Law.”
Gene Langston said he refused to apologize.
Chris Langston distributed bags of the proposed shell to commissioners and said that a mine would provide jobs and increase the county tax base. He said the shell could be used in restoration of Apalachicola Bay. He said the rock he hoped to mine would provide excellent harborage for oyster spat. He said “a multitude of materials” could be extracted from the proposed site, and that a letter of support was needed to present to the Florida Department of Agriculture, the governor and the Florida Legislature.
Former county planner Alan Pierce said there is currently no need to mine shell for bay restoration because there are no funds for shelling. Chair Smokey Parrish said no funds are likely to be available before 2022.
Sanders, who lives near the proposed mine, said her well was contaminated by a similar mine in Liberty County. “I am against any mining in Franklin County,” she said.
“We’re just trying to open up a business," Gene Langston said. "That is the only place that I know of where such a deposit exists.”
He said he planned to partner with two businessmen from Wakulla County. He said blasting would be unnecessary to mine the deposits so groundwater contamination would be unlikely.
Parrish called three times for a motion in support of the project but none of the commissioners offered one.
County Attorney Michael Shuler said without a motion there could be no action on the request.