STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
MARBLE FALLS — From healthcare officials to city leaders, hundreds of people attended a public meeting Oct. 26 hosted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to answer questions about a controversial air quality permit connected to a proposed rock crushing operation.
The meeting at Lakeside Pavilion featured a cross-section of community members including real estate officials upset about threats to residential development and hospital officials concerned about crystalline silica dispersed into the air by rock dust.
Asphalt Inc. has a pending TCEQ permit to build a rock crushing facility adjacent to the southwest corner of the U.S. 281 and Texas 71 intersection just south of the city of Marble Falls in Burnet County.
TCEQ hosted the public meeting for information purposes to allow the public to ask questions about the permitting process and offer details about the proposed operation.
Public officials who spoke also unveiled more aspects of what the business would entail and how it might impact surrounding communities.
“They’re not hauling the material in. They’re going to quarry,” Marble Falls Mayor John Packer said.
Packer contended that Burnet County has “10,000 acres of quarries,” and lamented that the state entity had failed to consider the city of Marble Falls has invested $14 million in extending utilities, resources and services to the intersection with an eye on housing development.
“It’s in the wrong place,” Packer said of the proposed operation. “We feel like this operation will negatively affect Marble Falls.”
A representative with Asphalt Inc. offered hints about the material output from the proposed facility.
“We will produce what the asphalt plant demands,” Asphalt Inc. Plant Manager Troy Carter said.
Estimates of the beginning years could total from 300- to 400,000 tons annually of material extracted from the ground on the property.
Supporters of the newly-created Highland Lakes Clean Air Coalition expressed displeasure by holding up signs as a reaction to statements about the plant.
A number of residents also raised questions about the amount of truck traffic, highway safety issues and other quality of life issues that could suffer should the plant launch operations.
TCEQ acknowledged the public meetings would not affect the outcome of the permit decision.
Permits are based on whether the company meets all the regulation and permitting requirements in the application.
Public commenting on the TCEQ website will end Oct. 31.