Activists Take Quarry Fight to Boerne
Comal County activists fighting to keep Vulcan Materials from developing a 1,500-acre rock-crushing plant near their homes say they’ll drive over to Boerne Middle School North Auditorium 6 p.m. April 19 to help counterparts in Kendall County protest an air-quality permit for a concrete batch plant that would process materials from Vulcan Quarry.
“Many of us are going to support them, and we have a trick up our sleeve,” says Sabrina Houser-Amaya with Stop3009VulcanQuarry. “We don’t want this. It is a 22-mile, one-way trip from 3009 Vulcan Quarry, heading west on Highway 46 past five or more schools. Vulcan fully intends to truck materials from our quarry to the batch plant.”
The April 19 hearing will be facilitated by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ) Office of the Chief Clerk.
In March, Houser-Amaya and others failed to convince Comal County commissioners to pass a resolution strongly condemning a TCEQ air-quality permit for the quarry, which would be located at SH 46 and FM 3009.
Instead, commissioners reiterated they have no zoning authority under state law to regulate projects like Vulcan Quarry and suggested opponents ask their state representatives to craft legislation that would make it possible for them to get involved.
An estimated 12,000 residents live within five miles of the proposed quarry in Comal County. Many reside in subdivisions where homeowners moved in with little to no knowledge of Vulcan Materials’ plans for the old White Ranch.
Stop3009VulcanQuarry on March 22 accused Comal County Commissioners of failing to provide meaningful support to their constituents, and of siding with an out-of-state corporation instead.
A Batch Plant for Boerne?
Now Boerne residents are in the cross hairs at the April 19 hearing scheduled by TCEQ.
Vulcan Materials is asking TCEQ to authorize a permit for a concrete batch plant with enhanced controls. The plant would produce up to 6,000 cubic yards of concrete daily.
Known as Boerne Ready Mix, the seven- to 10-acre project is set on a 34-acre property with mature wooded areas.
According to information provided by StopVulcanBoerne.com and the Boerne to Bergheim Coalition for a Clean Environment (BBCCE), Vulcan Materials already has a troubling compliance records at their closest ready mix facility, with 44 violations in the past five years and more complaints than all other concrete companies in Bexar County combined.
The groups warn of carcinogenic dust, endangered water resources, dangerous truck traffic, lower property values and other issues created by the proposed facility’s proximity to schools and neighborhoods.
However, in a press release posted to VulcanBoerneReadyMix.com, Vulcan Materials said it strives to be a neighbor and do things the right way.
The company has a comprehensive dust-control plan in place that includes, according to the press release
- Modern air collection-and-filtration system will capture dust
- Protective enclosures and enclosed material handling will control emissions
- Automated silo-control system will prevent dust
- Paved entrance, traffic and parking areas will prevent track-out on local roads
- Paved plant area will control dust generated by plant traffic
- Watering and sweeper cleaning will remove dust from traffic areas
- Use of pre-washed sand and stone raw materials will reduce fine dust in the process
- Walled sand and stone storage areas with watering systems will control dust.
In January, Kendall County Commissioners declared their formal opposition to Vulcan Quarry’s proposed batch plant, and agreed to pursue litigation against the permit request.
Next Steps for Vulcan Quarry
In May, TCEQ will release a Response to Comments (RTC) that responds to all formal and online public comments about its air-quality permit for Vulcan Quarry in Comal County.
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, groups and local governments have another 30 days to request a contested-case hearing (CCH) to provide further evidence they are ‘affected parties.’
A contested-case hearing would send the Vulcan permit application before the State Office of Administrative Hearings.
“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,” said Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry’s Sabrina House-Amaya in an interview last month. “I certainly hope that the commissioners will take this step and meet the requisite deadline because it’s the right thing to do.”