STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
AUSTIN — The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has given approval for a rock crusher operation to put down stakes in southern Burnet County despite hundreds of complaints from area landowners, municipalities, hospital representatives, and residents of Blanco, Burnet, and Llano counties.
Officials in the state agency’s air permits division penned a statement Nov. 30 that the TCEQ executive director has issued the air quality permit for Asphalt Inc.
For the past several months, vocal opposition has protested, submitted comments, and rallied against the company.
Opponents believe a rock crushing plant and quarry operation will threaten air and water quality as well as pose truck traffic dangers and stifle residential development.
TCEQ Executive Director Richard Hyde offered a statement after assessing public comments in opposition along with issuing the permit.
“All of the potential dust concentrations have been evaluated using reasonable, worst-case operating parameters and compared to the federal criteria mentioned above,” Hyde wrote. “When a company operates in compliance with the Standard Permit, there should be no deterioration of air quality or the generation of dust such that it causes a nuisance or impacts visibility.”
Commenters also expressed concerns about wildlife habitats, including those of the golden-cheeked warbler, bald eagle, and other migratory species.
“There should be no adverse health effects to wildlife, livestock, pets, or vegetation,” the agency head stated.
Despite concerns, TCEQ officials say the sole consideration for permit approval involved adherence to existing state guidelines.
“As previously mentioned, the TCEQ has conducted a thorough review of this permit application to ensure it meets the requirements of all applicable state and federal standards,” Hyde wrote. “Provided the rock crushing plant is operated within the terms of the standard permit, adverse health effects are not expected.”
The city of Marble Falls was among opponents and, at an accelerated pace, even annexed hundreds of acres adjacent and within the boundaries of the planned operation to stall future mining projects.
“Anything in our city limits or ETJ, we handle the storm water runoff permits,” Marble Falls Mayor John Packer said. “Anything like construction, plumbing, electrical mechanical (projects), they have to get a permit for that.
“That doesn’t stop anything, but they’ll have to go by the rules,” he added.
Similar to other opposition groups, the city is considering other legal options.
“We’re talking with our attorneys to find out what’s next,” Packer said. “What we can and can’t do — zoning, land-use restriction, and legal steps — to see what we can do to slow it down or stop it.”