STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
SUNRISE BEACH VILLAGE — Environmental groups and government entities have drafted resolutions and proposed stricter oversight on the burgeoning mining industry as planned dredging operations await word about permits from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Most recently, a planned Collier Materials creek bed mining operation on Nash Ranch, just off Texas 71 in Llano County, has captured the attention of Llano County commissioners.
On July 9, the court passed a resolution by a 3-2 vote that outlined the county’s opposition to the requested rock crusher permit.
The resolution also asked TCEQ to closely monitor the “public health, safety, and welfare issues” associated with the operation as well as requested a public meeting and contested case hearing on the permit request.
Llano County Judge Mary Cunningham cast a dissenting vote, but, because it passed, she will forward the approved resolution to local lawmakers and state officials as the position of the county.
“While some constituents want it to be stopped, probably an equal number thinks it’s a good idea,” Cunningham said. “We really have no particular input for a resolution. Land management is not something the county has control over.”
Soc Gonzales of Citizens for Scenic Texas Highways, a nonprofit group responsible for a beautification project at the Texas 71 and U.S. 281 intersection, is calling for the mining industry to be “mindful” of how it develops and work toward becoming a “good neighbor.”
“If no one has the power to stop this then all the citizens’ energy should be directed to (promoting) voluntary measures by Collier and Nash to blend into the environment we have,” he said. “Whatever measures we need to correct the problems we have on Sandy Creek and also to protect the environment is what our objective should be.”
Gonzales, who attended the Llano County commissioners resolution meeting, also approached Sunrise Beach Village City Council members with his group’s recommendations for quarry operations.
He believes the public should implore mining companies to:
• reduce and control lighting to maintain dark skies;
• control noise and the decibel level of plant equipment;
• eliminate or minimize commercial signage on the highway
• and maintain water quality by complying with regulatory agencies.
“Traffic, noise, and light pollution are issues,” Gonzales said. “(The quarries) should take extraordinary measures to blend into the Hill Country environment.”
The deadline is July 17 for the public to offer comments or request a public meeting and a contested case hearing in connection with Collier’s permit request.
Go to tceq.texas.gov for more information on the permitting procedure.