Commissioners Weigh In on Quarry
Comal County commissioners will finally weigh in on the controversial Vulcan Quarry project at their weekly meeting, scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Thursday, March 22 at Comal County Courthouse, 100 Main Plaza, New Braunfels.
A draft resolution submitted for approval by Scott Haag, County Commissioner, Pct. 2, urges Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to use its expertise to protect the health, safety and welfare of Comal County and its residents before approving an air-quality permit (number 147392L001) for the 1,500-acre rock-crushing plant at SH 46 and FM 3009.
But activists fighting development of the limestone quarry by Vulcan Materials Company say the resolution is too little, too late — and they hope many of the same 500 residents who showed up at a meeting to oppose the quarry will turn out on Thursday to send commissioners the same message.
Sabrina Houser-Amaya and David Drewa with Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry say the time period for TCEQ to consider public comments ended on Feb. 27 at a public meeting by TCEQ.
Is a Contested-Case Hearing Next?
In May, the agency will release a Response to Comments (RTC) responding to all formal and online public comments. It will include TCEQ’s executive director’s decision whether to formally approve the permit as-is or with alternative requirements.
If the permit is approved, Comal residents have another 30 days to request a contested-case hearing (CCH) to provide further evidence they are ‘affected parties.’
“During these 30 days, the Comal County commissioners will have another opportunity to support their constituents and request a CCH for their constituents who will be considered affected parties,” House-Amaya says. “I certainly hope that the commissioners will take this step and meet the requisite deadline because it’s the right thing to do.”
Drewa says they don’t need to wait to request the hearing.
In a March 16 email to Kevin Webb, Commissioner Pct. 3, he wrote:
“I am urging you and the other commissioners to pass a resolution and request a Contested Case Hearing, not as an empty political gesture, but because I truly believe that a properly written resolution would be a meaningful action representing Comal County citizens and defending them against the negative impacts of the proposed Vulcan quarry.”
Although Texas counties do not have the zoning authority to stop development of the land owned by Vulcan Materials, Drewa says a link on the county’s own website clearly shows the commissioners’ courts may make recommendations to TCEQ and enforce laws to promote public health.
Activists Say Haag’s Resolution Isn’t Strong Enough
“With all due respect, TCEQ’s list of requirements is woefully inadequate — even their site assessment report for this particular permit contained a number of errors and misstatements,” he wrote. “Additionally, TCEQ has a poor record of monitoring and enforcing compliance as well as a history of overlooking violations, discounting already small fines, and firing apparent whistleblowers. Furthermore, ensuring that Vulcan will not exceed TCEQ air contamination limits will be impossible since there are no air quality monitors in Comal County.”
In a phone interview, both he and Houser-Amaya noted that Haag, whose precinct includes the quarry site, did not use unequivocal language condemning the project as did Spring Branch, Bulverde and Garden Ridge city governments.
Drewa’s also concerned that Haag told his wife Tiffany Drewa, on a Jan. 26 phone call, that Comal County Commissioners Court is being advised by an attorney formerly employed by Vulcan Materials.
Haag did not respond to a request by MyCanyonLake.com for an interview.
What Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry Suggests the Resolution Say:
- Request that TCEQ give “maximum consideration to (Comal County’s) recommendations,” according to Section 382.112 of the Texas Health and Safety Code
- Request a Contested Case Hearing on TCEQ air quality permit application number 147392L001.
What Haag’s Resolution Proposes:
- That TCEQ, in reviewing the air quality permit application submitted for the construction and operation of a rock crushing plant, use all its expertise and authority to protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens and environment of Comal County, and to closely examine and grant any requests for a contested case hearing to any person that is deemed to be an affected person or party; and
- That all operations at the proposed site, including but not limited to, air emissions, water usage/protection, and water runoff be carefully reviewed according to the applicable laws and regulations; and
- That our representatives of the Texas Legislature work with the TCEQ to review requirements for air quality permits, water quality oversight, and other environmental protections in Texas, for Texans, and strengthen them as needed.
Subdivisions Located Within Five Miles of Proposed Quarry
Shearer Road and the Forks
Rim Rock Ranch
Dawn View Acres & Misty Hills
Smokey Mountain Ranch
Ridgeview Oaks East
Seven Hills Ranch
Comal Country Estates
Sun Valley Village
Bear Creek Hills