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Seeking compromise between sand mine, truckers & residents, Winter Garden delays truck ban vote

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Norine Dworkin

Friday, March 12, 2021


Norine Dworkin

A truck heading east, enters a roundabout on Marsh Road outside of Waterside community at about 6:15 a.m. on a January morning.

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Updated 3/17/21, 10:55 p.m.:  The Center Sand Mine in Lake County has agreed to significant concessions. Effective today,  according to notice posted on the city of Clermont's website, trucks will start driving later in the morning. The mine will also require  that trucks  drive in a "loop," so that only 50 percent of the trucks will be driving east and 50 percent driving west on a given day.

Winter Garden's City Commission unanimously voted Thursday night to hold off on formalizing an ordinance that would ban truck traffic on Marsh Road between the Lake County line and Williams Road until its March 25 meeting.

The two-week delay on Ordinance 21-11 is meant to give stakeholders — including Titan America, owner of the Center Sand Mine, truckers and representatives from Lake County, Clermont, Orange County and the Department of Transportation — an opportunity to work out a compromise.

“If we close down this road, there is no doubt that immediately the trucking company or sand mine company will go to the courts and try to get an injunction,” said Winter Garden City Manager Mike Bollhoefer who recommended the delay.

“We believe the law is on our side. We believe the facts are on our side,” Bollhoefer said. “But whenever you go in front of a judge, you never know what could happen. A judge could always file a temporary injunction or even a permanent injunction. When we go to a judge, it’s no longer in our hands, so we thought it made sense to try to negotiate for two more weeks to see if there’s a compromise that both the residents and these companies can all live with.”

Bollhoefer described all of the parties as "very motivated" to find a workable solution. "The last thing they want to see is this road closed down," he said. 

The truck ban initially grew out of the efforts of a group of Winter Garden residents who live in three communities along Marsh Road and got fed up with the noise and vibration of dump trucks, hauling materials on the road to and from the Center Sand Mine, six days a week. They reported that trucks typically started rolling around 4 a.m.; that noise levels from trucks reached 100 decibels at times; that their homes shook on their foundations; and that trucks routinely sped down the two-lane, local road. (read related feature story). They began pushing Winter Garden officials for the ban. 

Independent research, requested by city officials, found that, on average, about 1,400 trucks per day traveled on Marsh Road and through the communities, with 85 percent exceeding the speed limit.

“I know this commission will support what the residents want, and we’re going to do what the residents want,” said Colin Sharman, District 4 Commissioner, who represents the affected communities. “We’re just trying to make this as amicable as we can and give ourselves a position of strength.”

An audibly frustrated Carl Davis, who owns and operates a trucking company, phoned in to the meeting. “If you’re going to do whatever the residents want, then my opinion is not going to matter to anyone,” he told commissioners and attendees. “I would like to invite one commissioner to take a ride with me one day in the truck. You would see what we have to go through to make a daily living. If you ban us from Marsh Road, you are taking food off of my table. You’re stopping me from providing for my family.”

A resolution banning truck traffic on Marsh Road, which unanimously passed Feb. 11, is still in effect, said city attorney Kurt Ardaman.

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