Planned rock crusher site ‘for sale’ after fight with anti-mining foes

STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY

After a contentious battle with environmentally minded protestors, the 519-acre site of a proposed rock crusher just off Texas 71 south of U.S. 281 now dons a 'For Sale' sign. Courtesy photo

After a contentious battle with environmentally minded protestors, the 518-acre site of a proposed rock crusher just off Texas 71 south of U.S. 281 now dons a ‘For Sale’ sign. Courtesy photo

MARBLE FALLS — Mining industry opponents have turned up the heat with a petition calling for a statewide moratorium on quarry permits as an embattled rock crushing operation put its 518-acre proposed site up for sale.

As of April 20, the land just off Texas 71 southwest of the U.S. 281 intersection in southern Burnet County was listed as “for sale” by Austin-based Oberg Properties.

Several hundred acres of the land has been targeted for annexation by the city of Marble Falls after a series of public protests, meetings with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and calls for withdrawal of Asphalt Inc.’s state air quality permit. The permit allows Asphalt Inc. to build a rock crushing facility on the property.

“The city’s diligence and fast action to proceed with the annexation process was a big part of (the pressure on the mining operation). The city of Horseshoe Bay pulled everything inside their extra-territorial jurisdiction to help prevent something like this,” said Grant Dean of the Texas Environmental Protection Coalition. “The hospital was certainly involved. Baylor Scott and White (at the northwest corner of the intersection) is 100 percent behind us.”

Residents, businesses, and civic leaders were also concerned about a proposed quarry going in at that location.

Supporters and lobbyists for the industry contend that mining is critical for upgrading infrastructure such as roads and commercial and residential development as well as employs tens of thousands of people.

As groups fought against the planned rock crusher and quarry operation south of Marble Falls for several months, similar protests in Comal and Kendall counties also fueled momentum for the opposition to the expansion or construction of such facilities.

“We do have a big victory, but the war is far from over,” Dean said.

The Texas Environmental Protection Coalition recently broadened its scope — changing its name from the Highland Lakes Clean Air Coalition — to its current moniker.

In early April, TEPC unveiled its mission and a new website and began a campaign to petition state leaders regarding their concerns.

As a newly formed nonprofit, members joined the fight with New Braunfels-area residents against Vulcan Materials, which planned a mining operation on 1,500 acres on Texas 46, and Boerne-area residents who pushed back against a planned concrete batch plant, also on Texas 46.

“We’re all doing the same exact thing. At every meeting, we’re all worried about our health, the property values, the traffic … the permitting practices,” Dean said. “Our goal now is to open people’s eyes around the state.”

On April 19, at a contentious TCEQ meeting in Boerne, environmental groups, landowners, residents, and business owners, including operators of a nearby Montessori school, addressed commission representatives about Vulcan’s permit request.

At that time, TEPC members announced their steps forward in the fight against the mining industry and staged a walkout.

“We’re asking for a moratorium on permits statewide until there’s a complete review by TCEQ by an outside, independent agency,” Dean said. “When the citizens of our state are in conflict with the aggregate companies, we have absolutely no say in the issuances of permits.”

A moratorium is a temporary halt on certain activities, which in the state of Texas, are typically requested and lifted by state lawmakers.

“We need to reign these guys (in) until they can look at this and do what they can to make changes,” Dean said.

Nolan Wheeler, the agent listed on the property sale sign of the 518-acre site, said he could not comment on the motivation or reason for the decision to sell the land.

connie@thepicayune.com

27 Responses to “Planned rock crusher site ‘for sale’ after fight with anti-mining foes”

  1. Frank Smith says:

    How many planned jobs were lost?

    • CAL says:

      Less than 45

    • Alyssa Burgin says:

      How many people, young and old and in between, were saved from asthma attacks and chronic bronchitis? Educate yourself. Particulate matter is dangerous, to all of us, but especially to small children and seniors.

      • Tobert says:

        Do you know what’s in your toothpaste?? What you are calling “particulate matter”, is an inert substance CaCO3 commonly referred to as limestone. Please educate yourself before becoming a knowledged person.

  2. Jeannie Cook says:

    Good!

  3. Chris Adams says:

    New site for Amazon HQ outside of Austin?

  4. Nicole says:

    For everyone saying “jobs were lost” it is hard enough finding employees for our business.
    And unless you live in the area, you cannot possibly understand the dangers that already exist from the traffic that we have there on a daily basis, which is 100x worse during holidays.
    The benefits most definitely did not outweigh the negatives in this instance.

    • steve says:

      Hate to say it but traffic will still get worse. From the county line straight up 281 usage will dbl in a short time. Txdot is working on row aquisitions right now to widen 281 from at least 2147 to 71 intersection which is great but it will only be the short term solution.

      • Matt says:

        That’s funny Steve. It will be many,many years before TXDOT does anything to 281. They do not want any more traffic and certainly no more truck drivers on 281, this is a fact. Rock trucks and sand haulers are destroying the highway so you might as well plan on your tax dollars to pay for repairs, not widened 281. Heck we can not even get a turn lane put in on 281 for cr 403 or for any other county roads for that matter! That’s been an ongoing problem for decades.

        • steve says:

          Matt from 2147 to 71 txdot is buying row to widen at least that stretch of 281. And you should see how much txdot pays for land. One of the names mentioned in this article just sold some to them and made a hefty sum.

  5. Dale Seabaugh says:

    If the quarry and rock crushing plant had happened we would lose possibly hundreds of jobs and many thousands of dollars in future revenue to the city of Marble Falls. The future plans for that area like The Gregg Ranch Subdivision represents just a small part of what is about to happen near the Scott & White Hospital. Thankfully Asphalt Inc appears to be moving on. Thank you Asphalt Inc.
    The Texas Environmental Protection Coalition founded in Marble Falls is your support group to help control the agreggate business. Please know we understand and appreciate the need for the products that Texas Agregate supplies our state. They just need to be more responsible with where they set up shop.

    • steve says:

      While I agree with some of your comment,using the phrase we would lose possibly hundreds of jobs and thousands of future revenue to the city is nothing more than a maybe,might happen guess. And mentioning the gregg ranch. Have they ran water or sewer lines yet? How many developments have been touted in mfs that have not gotten past the starting gate?

  6. Dale Seabaugh says:

    Please support TEPC in Marble Falls and all over central Texas. We are doing the right thing in protecting Texas. It started at the Alamo and goes on today. Texas Environmental Protection Coalition.

  7. steve says:

    It’s interesting to see and hear about the anti mining/crusher people getting a so called victory in asphalt inc selling this land but why are they not over at the one off 1980. That one got permitted. How about the one on 281 which got an expidited permit. Better yet why are they not outside of the huber plant which sits right in town?

    • Lucy says:

      I agree, Steve. I live off of Park Rd 4 and when the one on 1980 decides it’s time to blast, it rattles the windows.

  8. JD says:

    This is a very troubling event for Texas’ private property rights. I can’t imagine my neighbor telling me what I can and cannot do on my own property, even when I am obeying the existing laws. Sad. Our country needs good blue collar jobs and materials mined for local road and infrastructure improvements.

    • Monique says:

      JD, I agree with you. My property is my PROPERTY and nobody can tell me how to use. What we have here is a bunch of WHINY brats. They use rocks to build homes and the roads. Roads need rock but apparently these people do not know that. Before SO MANY outsiders moved in nobody would have said 1 word about the land. Why don’t all of you WHINERS pay the landowner what he ask for his property.

      • JD says:

        Monique, I too agree with your point of view. The general public needs to become better educated on how the air quality regulatory scheme works in Texas. My guess is that they don’t desire to be better educated because the education would show that a rock crusher is a minor source of emissions, unlike a large cement manufacturing plant. Limestone rock resources are becoming less and less available at existing mines so new quarries need to open to support all those people moving into the area for their new houses and residential roads, etc. As for private property rights, Texas is at a precipice. These environmental groups may have some good ideas on how to improve compliance to the existing strict environmental rules, but they surely don’t seem to care about private property rights. Instead they willingly are spreading socialist values. Their identity is defined by “guilty until proven innocent”. I would say that identity is not the American way or at least it is not an original Texas value. Sad.

        • South MF says:

          I don’t see where any private property rights were violated; nobody ruled against, took away, or diminished this company’s ability to do what they were, and still are lawfully entitled to with their land. They still retain every right to do what is legally afforded to them by the law. Those citizens and city officials who were concerned about the quarry and it’s location pushed back, and took action to oppose it. Should we take away the rights of citizens to peacefully protest, oppose and take legal measures to oppose something they see as a legitimate concern? That certainly is not the “American way” either. If anything, their actions are more in line with “Texas values”; resisting something they see as an injustice or feel isn’t in their or their neighbors best interest. It simply was a bad location, and they received push back. Asphalt Inc’s decision to sell was a concession that it simply isn’t worth it for them to keep battling. I commend them for acknowledging it and moving on.

          • Angie says:

            Amen.

          • JD says:

            Bad location? Right location for the market. Right location for AI. They were pushed out possibly illegally with the city’s expedited annexation. Maybe someone will put a hot mix asphalt plant there instead which does not require public notification.

          • steve says:

            In the neighbors best in eh. Was it in the ranch land properties near this best interest to be involuntarily annexed against their wishes into this city? And now that ashpalt inc is selling that land will the city reverse the forced annexations? Texas values you say.if those values were still alive then the city should reverse it’s course and deannex those ranchers who did not ask to be a part of the city.

          • South MF says:

            If you consider the massive amount of people who opposed this quarry via written protest, public opposition, petitions, and demanding action at a city and state level as an indirect vote, then I would say that most felt it was a bad location. There either weren’t many that supported AI, or those of you who were in support of AI didn’t feel strongly enough to voice their support and “vote” otherwise. Obviously AI initially saw it as a good location, but now have changed their minds. It must not have been THAT good or they would still be adamant and pushing forward with this location. The assumption that the ranchers, how ever many there were, did not want annexation is an assumption. You would need to ask them personally which they would have preferred. In the public forum, there was far less push back to annexation than there was to the quarry. Annexation to the south was and is inevitable as the city grows, and those annexed probably realize this, and preferred this legal measure rather than a rock crusher as a permanent neighbor.

          • steve says:

            South mf. there was no assumption that some of the ranch owners did not want to be annexed as they did voice opposition to it. It’s on record as to that fact. Yes they may have preferred being in the city vs a rock crusher next door but like I stated. Crusher won’t happen so will the city deannex? Nope they wont. The city backed them into it without a Vote.

  9. Steve Mellenthin says:

    I tended to favor the construction of the site. I believe the impacts would have been slight. The arguments against it are disingenuous. New developments will certainly cause more of an impact on traffic, pollution, noise, crime rates, and other issues. It is like the arguments for cleaner energy. Everyone wants it but no one supports massive power transmission lines, new pipelines, drilling on federal lands where natural gas is found, transportation of nuclear waste, and so on. We take up these causes because they are emotionaland never consider the long term picture.

  10. D.H. says:

    I believe the most recent post by J.D. and Steve M. are very true. The old saying “Don’t place that thing in my backyard, move on down the road with it” is definitely what in most people’s mind.

  11. Joseph Famiglietti says:

    Demonstrating how this quarry project will be out of compliance with environmental regulations is an additional approach. This region is filled with caves and caverns some only a few square feet of space and just below the surface. Destruction of these caves and caverns are violation of the natural habitats of numerous species in the region.

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