EDITOR DANIEL CLIFTON
While the recent Texas legislative session wasn’t a success for Highland Lakes residents wanting more regulation of quarries and rock crushers, they aren’t giving up.
Grant Dean, who jumped into the fray in 2017 after a quarry and rock crusher was planned near his home just south of Marble Falls, is focusing on how people can work with quarry operators and become good neighbors.
“We’ve been trying to get some of these folks to sit down and hear what people are worried about,” Dean said.
On October 7, Dean and other concerned residents from across the Highland Lakes are getting that meeting. The Austin American-Statesman and KVUE will host a community forum at 6:30 p.m. at the Riverbend Conference Center, 708 First St.
The event is free and open to the public, but due to the limited seating at the center, people need to pre-register.
The forum includes Dean, State Representative Terry Wilson, David Perkins of the Texas Aggregates and Concrete Association, and others associated with the quarry industry or interested in the issue.
During the forum, attendees can submit questions that will be given to a moderator who will then present them to the panel.
“This is still a big issue, and it hasn’t gone away,” Dean said in reference to the quarries.
He pointed out the number of quarries has ballooned from a couple dozen in 2012 to several hundred today. And more are on the way, including a 400-plus-acre quarry near the intersection of U.S. 281 and Park Road 4.
While the legislative session didn’t prove to be a windfall for those seeking more regulations on quarry and similar operations — one out of the 22 proposed bills passed — Dean said he and others are focusing more attention on what they can do to help these operations become better neighbors. But, he added, more regulation of quarries is still something he’d like to see.
One problem with the quarry permitting process conducted through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality is the agency only focuses on the individual facility when they look at the application. The TCEQ doesn’t, Dean said, look at the cumulative effect that several quarries in an area have on air quality and other concerns.
There’s still work to be done, he said, and this forum is a step in that direction.
“We want to pack that center and make sure (the quarry industry) hears us,” Dean added.