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Battle heats up between asphalt plant, Spicewood residents

spicewood texas asphalt plant

Residents in the Spicewood community posted a sign outside the Deerpath Way subdivision in an attempt to gain support to halt a proposed asphalt plant on Texas 71 in Burnet County. Staff photo by Connie Swinney


SPICEWOOD —  Michael Moore says he will continue the fight against a proposed asphalt plant adjacent to his neighborhood on Deerpath Way because of concerns about health and safety as well as to save his own livelihood.

“I have built a horse ranch. We’re ready to go,” Moore said. “My whole goal was to exit California, come here and be a rancher. I have a house that’s ready to be a bed-and-breakfast, part of that horse ranch experience. I just moved an old house onto my property for a wine-tasting room to work with Spicewood Vineyards. I’ve sunk my life savings into this property. That’s all going to stop now. It’s all on hold.”

Asphalt Inc. LLC’s operation    referred to in the industry as a “hot mix plant” due to the chemicals used to prepare the gravel for road base — is being proposed for a 15-acre tract at 6755 Texas 71.

The location is adjacent to Little Cypress Creek in the unincorporated community of Spicewood.

Subdivisions nearby include Quail Creek and Deerpath Way.

“What happens is these big powerful companies go into poor or rural communities and they dump five or six plants, and who can stop them?” Moore said. “You have noise, dust, smell, traffic, large trucks pulling out into the traffic 24 hours a day.”

On Sept. 16, the Lower Colorado River Authority issued a stop work order against Asphalt Inc. due to concerns about public notifications and failure to install erosion and sediment controls required through the Highland Lakes Watershed Ordinance.

“The contractor had graded about 10 acres of land to clear an area to construct an industrial facility without the required permit,” according to an LCRA statement. “As part of the development permit application process, the applicant is required to notify property owners with(in) 500 feet of the proposed project.”

Within a two-week period, the company provided evidence of notification of about 50 nearby residents and installed the erosion and sediment controls.

In a letter dated Sept. 30, LCRA officials sent the company notice of approval of a development permit stating “the permit application has been accepted as adminstratively complete.”

Calls to Asphalt Inc.’s project engineer firm, Westward Environmental Inc., were not returned Nov. 6.

Residents in the area continue to raise concerns with county and state officials.

“I’ve had calls and emails concerning it. They’re worried about the water. The effects on a small stream that cuts through the plant,” said Charles Shell, president of the Central Texas Groundwater Conservation District. “I understand their concerns. It’s noisy, a lot of truck traffic, heavy equipment. I wouldn’t want it next to my house either.

“But it appears they’re trying to do everything they can to be in compliance,” Shell added, referring to the asphalt company.

Along with the asphalt plant, the same stretch of highway has experienced an influx of concrete batch plants within the past year.

Three have appeared. Another concrete operation is pending adjacent to an existing quarry within a few miles of the asphalt plant.

“We’re going to get hit with four or five concrete plants plus a hot mix (asphalt) plant,” Moore said. “If you’re going to have toxic chemicals or dirt from one plant, now multiply it times five.”

County officials say unincorporated areas lack regulating authority on private industry.

“There’s some citizens who have reached out and want to know what the county can do,” Burnet County Judge James Oakley said. “The long and short of it: The county does not have any type of land use authority. There is no zoning in the unincorporated areas.

“The only thing the county can do is to make sure if they build a septic system that it meets state requirements,” Oakley added. “Any entrances on the highway must be coordinated by (Texas Department of Transportation) standards.”

Any constraints or limits on such industry involves state water and air regulatory agencies and state law.

“It’s a double-edged sword. I’m all about property rights, and once you’re out in the county, you should be able to do pretty much what you want as long as it adheres to state laws and health standards,” Oakley said. “At the same time, you have industrial-type businesses like this, and the people who are there take on the ‘not in my backyard’ theory — the NIMBY —  and it’s hard not to have compassion for that. But at the same time, there is a need for asphalt, concrete and roads. It’s a delicate balance.”

To try to build more support to halt the plants, Shell and other Spicewood residents have launched a group called Citizens Against the Asphalt Plant in Spicewood.

The group has invited the public to meet at 6 p.m. Nov. 12 at Opie’s BBQ, 9504 Texas 71 in Spicewood.

“The elementary school is about three miles away (from the asphalt plant). The vineyard’s about a mile and a half away,” Moore said. “There’s two communities adjacent to the hot mix plant. This is a Texas issue, and Texans need to take care of Texans.”

36 thoughts on “Battle heats up between asphalt plant, Spicewood residents

  1. It may be a good choice for asphalt plant to be sparsely populated.

  2. As a resident of the Quail Creek subdivision for the last twenty years I know this area and I know the drainage patterns of this creek. After the creek passes the end of our road and our water plant it turns to the south and during heavy rains it spreads out to the East. The proposed site of the plant is slightly lower in elevation than the properties across the creek to the west. Thus the natural overflow of the creek during heavy rain events is through the site. I’m fairly certain that it is against the law in Texas to terrace or grade your property in any way that increases flooding on adjacent properties. This they have already done. So on top of destroying our quality of life and our property values this has increased our flooding risk immensely. This is not a suitable location for this facility. Not only will it cause flooding in this subdivision but it will be impossible for them to control runoff from their property into the creek. They are on the upstream side of the highway with very little frontage along the highway and therefor have no way to build retention ponds or any of the other normal runoff prevention measures.

    1. Ron, how much “road frontage” does a person need to build the correct retention pond?

      1. Long narrow site. The runoff will be trapped by the highway. It’ll be interesting to see how you manage runoff and still keep it out of the creek. If the weather people are right in their predictions for this winter we may get a chance to see soon. I don’t think y’all realize just how much this creek flows when the rains come. And you are going to flood us out. How can you sleep at night knowing what you have and will do to people’s lives?

        1. The problem with this conversation is that is all about after the fact damage. Thought needed to be put in front of decision of siting an industrial plant next to a residential neighborhood, on a running creek, and upstream from Lake Travis. The thought from Asphalt re this issue is about minimizing personal liability, hence the formation of a LLC, so they can file bankruptcy on the damages they cause.

          Asphalt Inc, LLC is actually a merger with another LLC, Big Arc Transportation. Lone Star Paving is their DBA. The owners are all hiding in the darkness of lax requirements for LLC reporting. Nonetheless I have identified a number of “members” and we should be talking directly to them, not Charlie. One of our team is meeting with the managing member of Asphalt today. I will let everyone know the results tomorrow at the website.

          As to Charlie, he loves his job. I love my God, my family, friends, and my Spicewood community.

          1. I see they started building on site. I’ll take that as the meeting didn’t go so well. What’s plan B? Or C or D or E?

  3. This asphalt plant should absolutely not be allowed here or anywhere under the sun.

    The environmental impact of roads is something that has been destroying our environment for centuries, impacting air, noise, water and the natural habitat. I believe in walkability and biking and not driving 50 miles a day. What is wrong with everybody.

    Nearly half a million american motorists die each year in accidents and nearly 400 million road animal are killed annually.

    I’m sorry that you have to ruin our environment for convenience with asphalt plants, roads, and your cute little neighborhoods where you are all destroying the beautiful hill country.

    Don’t even get me started on the air pollution, the negative effects of gas and oil and so on.

    Everyone of you need to look in the mirror.

  4. I am Michael Moore. I am not the film maker. My home is in Spicewood. FiftycalTX knows nothing of me. But I know about him and his recent move from Austin to the Hill County. One should really reserve judgment on people until they meet them. FiftycalTX would likely be [pleasantly] surprised.

    As to Charlie, maybe you should talk to Dan at Spicewood Vineyards. He actually grew up working at a HMAP. I’ll let him tell you the truth of working at the plant, in contrast with your 19 years of construction of them. Ask how it affected his life, and why he no longer works in that industry. Maybe you should consider an occupational change to prolong your life.

    As to the TCEQ, the information provided by an investigative reporter is not flattering, especially since TCEQ’s their entire job is the protection of the environment. Despicable may be a better description.

    See the backup data for the article by reading the TCEQ emails at

    Texas Fish and Wildlife stated to me last week, that they rely on TCEQ to do their job, so that TF&W only has to respond to “fish kills.” I say that is a bit late for the fish and Lake Travis.

    As to Asphalt Inc., LLC. I have learned who some of the hidden owners are, and at the appropriate time, I will expose their names and addresses. I think you all will be surprised, and not in a positive way.

    For the Residents of Spicewood. – SOS – Save our Spicewood. Call, Write, E-Mail all of your elected and appointed officials. Even when they say they don’t have jurisdiction, ask them, tell them, to rise up and get involved and to speak their mind to the HMAP, to the print, radio and TV media, to the TCEQ, to the LCRA, to TexDot, to the Marble Falls Independent School District, to the Board of Education District 10, and to the Texas Legislature and make it clear that this HMAP industrial facility does not belong in Spicewood, the Gateway to the Texas Hill County. We are on FaceBook and

    1. Moore, we do work with things that are heavy, hot, high voltage, bad weather conditions, and long hours at times. But I love what I do. Just the same as you im sure. Not all of us are cut out to be layers and sit behind a desk. I guess you think police, firemen, and our military should consider changing professions too since it’s dangerous.

      1. Charlie~ I can’t help but reply to your last comment. It is way off base as to what we are dealing with and what needs to be focused on. If you love what you do with asphalt plants, by all means, keep on doing it. No one is trying to talk you out of that. However, suggestions can be helpful sometimes. But also know that the police, firemen and military are not putting an asphalt plant in front of our homes nor are they doing anything to pollute our neighborhood….it is YOU that wants to do that. Spicewood feels this is dangerous for the community and I bet the police, firemen and military would agree. See the difference?

  5. This plant will be within 100 yards
    of a neighborhood that has been there for 25-30 years. The water wells
    that serve this community’s water system are right on the edge of the
    creek and will be contaminated by the pollution from this plant. How
    could the TCEQ or any other responsible agency allow this to happen?
    This is a travesty. The site will be flooded and drain directly into
    the creek to be carried downstream through other properties and into
    lake Travis. If you zoom out even more you can see that there are plenty of
    other potential locations along Hwy 71 where they could put this besides
    right next to established residential neighborhoods and creeks.
    plant will also cause an extremely dangerous situation on Hwy 71 as
    this stretch of road has no center turn lane nor improved shoulders. Two other concrete batch plants have also been approved along this same two mile stretch of Hwy 71. If
    TxDot is going to allow this type of industry along the highway then
    they should at least build the infrastructure to support it. This road is a major artery leading from Marble Falls and the Hill Country into Austin. People will
    die out here as a result of this traffic hazard.

  6. Anyone that lives near Spicewood or has family and friends there will be opposed to this piece of industrial crap stuck right next to humans that were there first. Move the Industrial Greed on somewhere else down the road. For those that are in favor of it being here and you like it so well, you can move right on down the road and live right next to it also!! If you are not part of the solution to this then you are part of the problem. All those opposing this hazardous polluting monster in Spicewood, please let’s not even waste our energy or time even responding to the uninformed people that don’t have a clue what’s going on as to why it should not be here in Spicewood where some greedy and inconsiderate corporation is forcing it’s polluting fallout on our community. We would appreciate them enjoying their project in their own neighborhood.

    1. Ernest, I keep seeing this concern about open asphalt storage at the site and it being a major pollution source. Is that referring to “RAP”? RAP (recycled asphalt) is HMA that has been milled from an old roadway and brought back to the plant to be mixed back in with the new mix. This does a couple things for the producer and consumer. I’ll get to that later if you want to know. If it is rap that is concerning people, it’s nothing other than a road you drive on everyday put in a pile instead of being flat. Water runs off roads during every rain event, goes into the lakes and creeks, and the only pollutants that come from that are what comes out of people’s cars that travel them.
      I have only worked in one industry since I started working 19 years ago. For those 19 years I have specialized in one area, asphalt plants. I build them, relocate them, and assist in major repairs. I have worked with new ones, very old ones, big producers (500-600 tph) and small producers (200-300 tph). I love to teach people about these types of plants. In these cases having a normal conversation is almost impossible because anger takes over. Sad but true. I understand not wanting this on the other side of the fence, but posting every random piece of negative information that someone can dig up about a process they have never even seen before is not right either.

      1. Charlie, I have never once mentioned anything about open asphalt storage being piled up on the ground, as you now mention recycled road materials. The Spicewood community is concerned about the new hot mixing that will be taking place with all the chemicals involved stored in the eyesore, sky towering silos. Every hot mix plant I have seen has huge storage tanks high in the air. So, you are saying this one will only have the piles of the recycled material? Why don’t you post a picture on this Daily Trip of exactly what is proposed at this site? Anger? You haven’t a clue of the anger that there will be if this is allowed and does create problems for us. I have not been able nor anyone else to produce anything positive out of this for enhancing our neighborhood. It only seems at this point to benefit the asphalt plant. It will be interesting to see what will be constructed there based on your comments.

        1. Ernest, sorry about that. I can’t remember where I read that. I thought you might know what the thought was on it.

  7. A delicate balance????? Here are a few asphalt plant pollution facts:

    Fugitive emissions – those chemicals emitted from trucks and moving asphalt – not measured or calculated, but very important, in addition to emissions from the plant itself;
     Asphalt cutting, (mixing), solvents – benzene, dioxane, or toluene – all extremely dangerous to health; exposure to chemicals in asphalt causes cancer in animals.
     Amounts of pollutants estimated by computers, mathematical formulas, not actual testing; (NO, LCRA nor TCEQ do not perform any actual “real” testing.)
    ASPHALT PLANTS ARE FIRE PRONE, emitting vast amounts of toxic pollutants;
     Chemicals emitted into the air will be dissolved by rain and run into our aquifers,
    contaminating the water;
     Huge quantities of fuel are needed to make asphat; spill at this cite would pollute
    the groundwater forever;
     One litre of gasoline contaminates one million litres of water!

    1. That is all excellent information for the uniformed and for people that don’t know about asphalt, what’s in it and how it’s made. LCRA and TCEQ both are very diluted in their handbook guidelines set forth that are not even close to protecting the air, water and soil contamination from asphalt plants. Please everyone, do your own research and see for yourself where these have a track record in areas where they were allowed. No one will be convinced that the permitting guidelines will be met on the air quality on these types of facilities. Will the polluted air from this plant magically just stop at the property line of the plant’s site!!! What about when the wind blows more that 3 mph?? The poor people living right next to it, even hundreds of yards away or miles will get the drift of these harmful chemicals.

    2. We have us an Internet expert here! Let me guess Holly…………. 1) Google search 2) OMG look, right click save and then paste.
      Am I right?

      1. Charlie, let us guess….you either are affiliated with the asphalt plant or you don’t live anywhere near Spicewood, Texas and don’t have even the slightest clue what this plant would do to YOU as a close neighbor. Are we right?? Internet has a vast supply of information on just about everything, but wait….I bet the asphalt people know exactly what’s in their asphalt and that’s why they won’t live next to it. Are we right again? If this plant is allowed in the residential community at Spicewood and the property value no doubt will be devalued for sure, maybe then you, Charlie can buy some of the property for sale there and live there. After all, the asphalt people are saying the plant won’t impact the area!! I wonder where they googled that information? I haven’t been able to find it.

        1. Ernest, Vulcan has an asphalt plant a little over 4,000 feet from the proposed site and has been operating for many years. That’s less than a mile. If these types of plants are so bad, why haven’t they contaminated ground water, creeks, rivers, or the lake? Krause springs is still beautiful, fish are still swimming in lake Travis, and the water wells are still drinkable.

          1. Oh trust us, we know about that one…. It is a very small plant compared to the one proposed that if allowed will be permitted to produce 300 tons of asphalt per hour 24/7 all year long. The small one there now, it’s production is very minimal. Do you see or understand the difference. And you know what, maybe TECQ and LCRA need to check that one out closely now before allowing a super producer in the same area. That would be a disaster waiting to happen. How does the new plant plan to address flooding runoff, constant traffic on inferior roadway out in front. Don’t forget about the noise and smell of diesel trucks coming in and out of the plant by the subdivisions constantly. Spicewood does not want to risk the swimming fish and the questionable drinking water(of which I would not drink). Who in their right mind would even think of putting our community at risk. Two wrongs won’t make a right. Too much of anything is not good and that new plant will be too much. Did you see the raging flooding that came across that area proposed recently from just 5″ of rain? I would guess that you didn’t. One other thing that you and the asphalt people are completely ignoring is the massive silos and tanks that will be so easily visible from all our front yards, porches and hill country views out our windows. Come on now, you know you would not want to look at that from your home and see this forever. It’s presence alone is devastating to the community and everyone’s property value. It was not part of our long term country living and retirement plans for some. I can not believe any human would just come in and force this thing on everyone living right next to it without even a second thought. Just for one minute, all of you that think it will enhance our neighborhood, put yourself in our place. Once again, why does it have to be here? Why not a few miles farther out or even on 281? The Spicewood Community will do everything it can to stop this. We will never stop opposing it and that is a fact.

  8. Not in my backyard! So if they put the plant in the valley or East Austin or somewhere lots of poor people live…Guess that would be okay? Folks this is free enterprise and Capitalism in a state that consistently elects “no regulations” republicans who dont give a crap about the environment until their property values are affected.

    1. Clearly you didn’t read the article or perhaps you got from it what you believe. Concerns are air quality, water quality, downstream water contamination, and hazardous traffic. We care about our hill country and environment. Fact: Quail Creek is a subdivision comprised of mobile homes? Deerpath Ranch is a subdivision of mixed incomes and some, like us, moved out of Austin to make living more affordable. Does that fall in the poor enough category for your stereotyping? Stayed tuned though uninformed citizen as it will most likely end in court over property value degradation. How else can you get away when “free enterprise and Capitalism” has taken your life?

    2. CCMM ~ it sounds as if you have not been out to look at the site. If you had you would know that there are mobile homes adjoining the asphalt site. These are not large, fancy homes. Your comments sound politically influenced and not fact based. We DO give a crap about the environment and this plant will most likely affect the water that will end up in Lake Travis.

  9. The asphalt plant along with every person and organization involved in allowing it should be held responsible. It will degrade our property value, contaminate our air,water and soil. Also there will be this pathetic eyesore when we walk out our front doors and see this polluting monster. This is not quite what I had in mind when I purchased land here. I have already started my forever home where I had intended to retire in a few years and it will be ruined for sure. Let’s not forget about the open space land established for wildlife in Deerpath Ranch recognized by Burnet County Tax Dept. I bet the wildlife will love the asphalt plant and will hang around and raise their offspring, not likely? What do we have to do, find an extinct dangerous scorpion or salamander that needs protecting? What about human lives and their health? What about our precious and limited water supply, whether it be our private wells or the streams and creeks that flow directly in to Lake Travis. TCEQ, LCRA and any other permit writing organization involved should have one these built next to their offices and their homes. I bet then some legislation and jurisdiction would be found immediately to stop it. When they say there is no legislation or jurisdiction to enforce ridiculous ideas such as this, then the majority of the affected people in the local community should vote on it. Why didn’t the asphalt company do a responsible act and ask if Spicewood would mind if this were built here before buying the land and start rushing it through….almost kind of sneaky like the concrete plant that got put in pretty much unannounced. At least the ground moving and preparing for the asphalt plant was stopped when they did not have all their proper permits to even start. This alone says a lot about who we are dealing with. We will need to all band together when the time comes and sue for compensation of property value loss as well as all the other damaged amenities. The logical, simple and common sense thing to do would be to just relocate on down 71 or 281 where it is not populated. Then, let the people have the choice whether they want to live next to it. We all see the need for asphalt plants and we all like to drive on paved roads. We just don’t want them in our neighborhood.

    1. I would like to add that these industrial plants should not be allowed in any neighborhood, whether there are rich, middle class or poor people living in the area. All humans deserve their right to clean air, water and a bright future for their children without toxic chemicals floating around and landing on their homes,children,gardens, pets and wildlife. So, “NOT IN MY BACKYARD”, I will say pertains to anyone’s backyard !!

  10. Several things I find interesting about this whole ordeal is.1 the land the company purchased does not appear to have much highway frontage.2 there is no center median for turning left into the property if one is heading west on 71 which creates another traffic problem.not to mention the fact that travelers top a hill before they come to the entrance so there’s not much time to stop.(think rear end collisions and yes they will happen)Hmm, guess TxDot better get busy fixing that stretch of 71. Oh and while State,county, or any other official is at it finding a solution to this problem that is waiting to happen they should include changing the name of 71 to Industrial Blvd since that is what it has become.

  11. Darn. A Californicator complaining about NOT ENOUGH “regulation”. Gee, maybe you shoulda moved to Austin. They loves them some regulations over there. Or you coulda stayed in California and dealt with your own problemos.

    1. Sir ~ you don’t have a clue what you are talking about! We are not from California. We are from Austin [born here & lived all our lives]. Would be nice if you had any of the facts straight.

      1. Well, if you are “Michael Moore”, the story says you are from California. If you aren’t him, I don’t know who you are or why you are commenting about my post. As to the “hot mix” plant, gee, too bad. It’s got to go somewhere and on 71 is probably a place where the BUSINESS figured it would be best. If you don’t like it, you know, PROGRESS is too much for you, you should sell out and move out past Mason or somewhere. Or move BACK to Austin. They know how to put them some regulations up.

        1. I called you sir to be polite. I am mistaken. Do you live in Spicewood? Do you maybe work for the asphalt company or the construction that is building it? Are YOU going to be affected by this plant? I understand the need for this type of business. I just don’t understand why they would place it between two residential neighborhoods. Have you read up on the effects this type of plant has relating to cancer and other health hazards?

    2. Do you live in Spicewood? I’m a Texas born and raised! I also live in Spicewood. We are talking about health hazards here! This can be a disaster to the growing Spicewood area, it will not be “country” for long a lot of families will and are living here.Is it better not to regulate and then later find out those consequence to life’s? !! How many times in history have we seen that!! Its not just about regulations, but if any regulations are to be made if should be ones of can harm people’s life’s and health! Do you work for hot mix?

  12. As a former reporter for many years, I can say this article is well reported, journalisticly balanced. Good quotes on both sides of the issue. A clear explanation of the shortfalls in permitting and oversight.

    BUT, once again the LCRA is NOT on top of things. With Cypress Creek in that watershed, you can bet that Krause Springs will be affected — NEGATIVELY. Who will be blamed? Asphalt Inc. or LCRA or even the area citizens for allowing “one of the best seven (natural) swimming holes in Texas” to be polluted and swimmers jeopardized?

    Time to think long term. IN FACT, someone should AGAIN ask and FINALLY get the answer: Has the Vulcan operation ever gotten the proper/approved TCEQ and other permits to operate along TX Hwy. 71 ? ? ?

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