STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
AUSTIN — As the potential approval of air quality permits for two planned rock crushing operations looms, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is offering insight into the public meeting process prior to decisions on the permits.
A barrage of public comments has besieged the state regulatory body since opponents have rallied against permits sought by Asphalt Inc. and Collier Materials Inc. in Burnet County. Opponents cite concerns regarding air and water quality and increased traffic.
In August, Asphalt Inc. launched the state permit process for a rock crusher operation just off U.S. 281 at CR 403. A public commenting deadline is scheduled for Oct. 9.
Collier Materials asked for a permit to operate a rock crusher in the 4600 block of FM 1980 (Tobyville Road) west of Marble Falls and has progressed further along in the process toward a TCEQ decision.
A public meeting regarding Collier’s request is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 24 at the Holiday Inn Express, 714 Corazon Drive in Marble Falls.
TCEQ officials confirmed plans for a public meeting for Asphalt Inc. with a pending time, date, and location.
TCEQ spokesman Brian McGovern offered more details explaining the meeting process and what it would entail.
1. How did the public meeting decision come about?
“The terms of the Air Quality Standard Permit for Permanent Rock and Concrete Crushers do not provide for a formal public meeting; the TCEQ will be holding an informational meeting. The TCEQ decided to hold an informational meeting due to significant interest from the public and elected officials for this application.”
2. What is the purpose of the public meeting?
“The purpose of an informational meeting is to give the public an opportunity to ask questions regarding the application. TCEQ staff members will be present to provide information on the application; the applicant is also invited to attend the informational meeting.”
3. If there is one, has a time, date, and place been set for the (Asphalt Inc.) meeting?
“The TCEQ is working with the applicant and elected officials to schedule the meeting. All persons who submitted a comment or have requested to be on the mailing list for this particular application will receive notice of the meeting.”
4. What is the difference between a public meeting and a contested hearing?
“An informational meeting enables the public to learn about the application and ask questions of the TCEQ. The public may also ask questions of the applicant if the applicant attends the informational meeting. A contested case hearing is a legal proceeding, similar to a civil trial, which is conducted by the State Office of Administrative Hearings.”
5. What are the factors that warrant a contested hearing?
“The terms of the Air Quality Standard Permit for Permanent Rock and Concrete Crushers do not provide an opportunity for a contested case hearing.”