STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
MARBLE FALLS —A beautification group and community leaders have launched a battle against a proposed rock-crushing operation just south of the U.S. 281 and Texas 71 intersection in southern Burnet County.
Officials and nearby residents have expressed concerns about Asphalt Inc.’s pending air-quality permit application with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, which was deemed “technically complete” by the state agency on Aug. 21.
The Austin-based company now awaits a state-mandated, 30-day public comment period followed by another 30-day review period by the TCEQ executive director for final approval.
According to the air-quality permit application, the rock-crushing operation will be located a couple of miles south of Texas 71 on the westside of U.S. 281, 90 feet from Flat Rock Road in Burnet County.
The location is just south of the fledgling 700-home Gregg Ranch development, a proposed 240-acre residential project just southwest of the highway intersection.
Soc Gonzalez of the Gateway to the Hill Country Beautification Project said the specter of the rock-crushing operation casts a shadow on an effort Sept. 9 to begin beautification efforts on 10 acres at the highway intersection.
“We’re (wildflower) seeding this weekend, doing it all day Saturday,” Gonzales said. “(A rock-crushing operation) puts a totally different environment into that part of the county. It industrializes it.”
Gonzalez has started distributing leaflets to nearby residents and community leaders to alert them about the organization’s concerns.
“It’s a bad thing for the long-term benefits of the Marble Falls and Burnet County community because it industrializes an area that should be zoned for commercial and residential development,” Gonzales said. “There’s truck traffic, air pollution because of the dust, vibration of the ground because of all the dynamiting they do to break up the rock, the dark skies will be gone.
“All we can do is inform the public that has a voice in Burnet County,” Gonzalez added.
The area in question is located outside the city limits south of Marble Falls and north of the Round Mountain city limits.
For the past several years, both cities have worked to annex southward and northward to expand residential development opportunities and control such activities; however, the location of the proposed rock-crushing operation falls just outside of either city’s jurisdiction.
“The county has no land-use authority for situations like this,” Burnet County Judge James Oakley said. “I empathize with the adjacent property owners that have to deal with what they deem is undesirable land use.”
If approved, Asphalt Inc. might need to work with the Texas Department of Transportation on entryway requirements.
“TxDOT is going to have to be involved. We know it’s going to have heavy truck traffic,” Oakley added. “We hope TxDOT will utilize its rules and regulations to ensure that a responsible entrance with acceleration and deceleration lanes and, hopefully, center-turn lanes are included with the permitting of the project.”
As many as a half-dozen rock-crushing operations and quarries currently operate in Burnet County, including three on the U.S. 281 corridor between Marble Falls and Burnet.
Several gravel operations, including another belonging to Asphalt Inc., have surfaced on Texas 71 between Marble Falls and the unincorporated Spicewood area, east of the U.S. 281 intersection.
“It’s unfortunate the communities allowed this to happen without much planning,” Gonzalez said.
A public comment period connected to the air-quality application is underway.
Written comments may be submitted to the Office of the Chief Clerk, MC-105, P.O. Box 13087, Austin, TX 78711-3087, or online HERE.
“For those who already have houses, they never dreamed of having a rock quarry beside them,” Oakley said. “It’s certainly understandable for those who live in the area or have residential development plans that it may not be favorable to have a rock quarry in the vicinity.”
Attempts to get comments from Asphalt Inc. were unsuccessful.