Vulcan’s Boerne Batch Plant’s a Go
Stephanie Johnson

mycanyonlake.com
May 25, 2018

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PHOTO: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has greenlighted construction of a controversial concrete batch plant by this school and established neighborhoods. Photo by Milan J. Michalec

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) approved a required air-quality permit on Thursday, May 24 despite fierce opposition from community members and local government in Kendall County.

Vulcan Materials can now move forward with construction of the controversial batch plant, which residents argue is located near long-established neighborhoods and a school.

TCEQ’s decision is being closely watched by activists in Comal County. They’re also awaiting a ruling from TCEQ about an air-quality permit for Vulcan’s controversial proposed 1,500-acre open-pit rock-crushing plant, to be located at SH 46 and FM 3009, between Bulverde and New Braunfels.

Crushed limestone from the Comal quarry would be processed at the Boerne location.

GROUPS CONDEMN DECISION
Annalisa Peace, Executive Director of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance (GEAA), called TCEQ’s decision shameful.

“It is shameful that the State of Texas treats its citizens this way,” she said. “The Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance has long been recommending that the state assess all environmental impacts of aggregate industry permitting on local communities and water resources. To deny the citizens impacted by this batch plant even the opportunity to contest the permit is especially shameful. We will be calling on the state legislature to give local governments more control to enable them to weigh in, in a meaningful way on incompatible land uses such as this.”

The Boerne to Bergheim Coalition for a Clean Environment (BBCCE), which spearheads most grassroots opposition to Vulcan’s concrete batch plant, say its members are disappointed by TCEQ’s decision but not “deflated.”

“This shows how shallow TCEQ’s review and approval process really is,” says Woody Stephenson, a Pleasant Valley resident and BBCCE member. “It’s unbelievable that TCEQ is fine with local children and the elderly breathing polluted air, when they really don’t have to.”

BBCCE says it plans to proceed with necessary administrative steps before filing a lawsuit.

The group has scheduled a meeting for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 29 at Kendall Plantation, 20 Guthrie Rd, Boerne to discuss next steps.

BBCCE said TCEQ admitted during a public hearing in April that the decision to greenlight the facility was “already approved” before there was a chance for the public to comment.

WHAT COMMISSIONERS THINK
Meanwhile, an estimated 12,000 Comal residents live within five miles of the proposed rock-crushing quarry at SH 46 and FM 3009.

Although the fight to keep Vulcan out of New Braunfels and Bulverde centers around issues like as carcinogenic dust, depletion and contamination of water resources, truck traffic and lower property values, it’s also alarmed residents who did not know Texas counties have only limited authority to regulate land use outside of city limits.

At the urging of constituents, Comal County commissioners on March 21 passed a resolution asking TCEQ to use its expertise to protect the health, safety and welfare of Comal County residents. However, they admitted there is little they can do to stop Vulcan quarry.

Canyon Lake-area’s Precinct 4 Commissioner Jen Crownover said Commissioners Court lacks the “tools in the toolbox to stop this.

“We don’t have the authority that most people perceive that we do,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking to see this happening, and if we had it in our toolbox to be able to stop it, I’m sure that you’d have the support for that.”

Donna Eccleston, Comal County Commissioner, Pct. 1, added commissioners lack the authority to even ask for extra monitors and increased water vigilance.

“So I implore you to look at the people who can make significant changes, which are your legislators and the state,” she said.

Stop3009VulcanQuarry.com, which represents residents and opponents to the proposed quarry operation, quickly fired back: “By passing this ineffective resolution, commissioners continue to side with an out-of-state corporation rather than the citizens they were elected to represent.”

NEXT STEPS FOR COMAL COUNTY
Next month, concerned citizens and experts on Texas state law hope to bring some clarity to the issue.

On June 5, League of Women Voters, Comal Area, GEAA and Preserve Our Hill Country Environment will sponsor a public forum about ways fast-growing Hill Country counties can assert more control over incompatible land uses and other impacts of development.

The meeting is scheduled from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 5 at GVTC Auditorium, 36101 FM 3159, New Braunfels.