Quarry Hearing Scheduled for Wednesday
Property owners and other stakeholders trying to keep Vulcan Construction Materials from developing a 1,500-acre open-pit limestone quarry at FM 3009 and SH-46 are expected to pack Comal County Commissioners Courtroom 9 a.m. Wednesday for a preliminary administrative hearing to determine who has the legal right to challenge the air-quality permit Vulcan needs to proceed.
The purpose of the State Office of Administrative Hearing (SOAH) preliminary hearing is to finalize issues, determine so-called “affected-party” status and set a timeline for a subsequent contested-case hearing over Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)’s controversial permit for the rock-crushing plant.
Friends of Dry Comal Creek and Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry activists groups have spent months helping residents to prepare for this hearing in front of the administrative law judge who will hear sworn witness testimony and review documents presented as exhibits.
To request to be named as an affected party, residents must present in person their reasons as to how their health and quality of life will be adversely affected above that of the general population in both short- and long-term, according to a media advisory released by Sabrina Houser Amaya with Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry.
“It is important that people don’t take on the mentality that ‘it’s a done deal’ or ‘I wasn’t named as an affected party the first time around so why should I try again?'” she said.
Although Wednesday’s hearing primarily establishes who can be named an affected party, Vulcan spokesman Scott Burnham said his company looks forward to continuing to engage and work with the residents of Comal County as the permit process proceeds.
“From the beginning of this process, Vulcan has presented a comprehensive plan that demonstrates we’re committed to Comal County and operating in a safe and responsible manner,” he said.
Company representatives will attend the hearing, although they will not speak.
Meanwhile, concerned citizens should speak up regardless of where they live in relationship to the quarry’s proposed rock crusher, Houser Amaya said.
“It is our opinion that the one- and two-mile distance limitations are arbitrary and capricious and not based on any statutory law or legal limitation on who can be named an affected person.”
In December 2018, TCEQ ruled only those living within a one-mile radius of the property’s rock-crusher have the right to argue against air quality permit #147392L001, which TCEQ must approve before Vulcan can proceed.
She said she hopes those at the hearing will send a loud message to the TCEQ, Vulcan and Comal County commissioners that citizens are no longer willing to accept the status quo.
Friends of Dry Comal Creek and Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry say they want to openly expose how the aggregate industry has been allowed to “pursue unbridled business operations across Comal, Kendall and Burnett Counties.”
For its part, Vulcan, in a brochure called “Strengthening Our Community,” said it has many current and former employees who live in Comal County and over the years has supplied product to 200 customers here.
In 2016, Vulcan said it purchased more than $1.73 million in goods and services from Comal County-based businesses and contracts with 20 local vendors.
“We’re no stranger to Texas or Comal County,” according to the brochure. “We currently operate 15 quarries and several other facilities in Texas, and we’ve been operating facilities in the San Antonio area since the 1970s.”