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Granite Shoals digs into proposed new mining ordinance; public hearing set

Granite Shoals

A newly proposed mining ordinance would affect some of the quarries and businesses in Granite Shoals, including Whittlesey Landscape Supplies at 2102 N. Phillips Ranch Road. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

The Granite Shoals City Council tabled a new mining ordinance during its Tuesday, Jan. 25, meeting and set a public hearing on the issue on its Feb. 8 meeting agenda. The public hearing is to give residents a chance to share their thoughts before a final decision is made.

The City Council adopted a mining ordinance in March 2021. Soon after, councilors directed City Manager Jeff Looney and City Attorney Joshua Katz to meet with representatives of mining and mineral rights groups.

Katz said the aim of that meeting was to “protect citizens and help protect property rights and also protect mineral rights.”

Afterward, he and Looney met to create and recommend a new ordinance based on “feedback from the stakeholders that would repeal and replace” the original ordinance. 

The proposed new ordinance has a section of operating conditions that includes setbacks, fencing, dust control, noise, storm water, trucking operations, point of contact, and insurance requirements.

It also establishes “legacy municipal limits” that are west of Valley View and to the north and south of RR 1431, where most of the city’s homes are located, Katz said. It would not apply to the existing extraterritorial jurisdiction.

The new ordinance is the result of good and productive conversations, Katz said, adding that he believes it would hold up in “legal defense and protects the interests of the city.”

Several people representing mining and mineral rights interests attended the City Council meeting. 

Coldspring Chief Financial Officer George Schnepf answered questions about the quarrying company’s operations, noting that it works with the Lower Colorado River Authority, the Texas Department of Transportation, and other agencies to address public safety.

“Our footprints are small to begin with,” said Schnepf, referring to a strip of land Coldspring owns near Highland Lakes Elementary School in Granite Shoals.

Councilor Phil Ort interjected, noting the issues that quarries present, including noise and dust.

“Any kind of mining operation is going to be detrimental to all around there,” he said. “We have an elementary school there. Those students are being distracted. I can’t understand why you’d have a strip of land there at an elementary school.”

“We don’t blast that much, if at all,” Schnepf said. “Technology has allowed us to change the way we quarry. We’re very neighborhood-friendly. We’ve done a lot to make sure dust is kept to a minimum. The dust we create is a fraction of what it was in the past.”

Katz added that the new ordinance includes grandfathered provisions for existing operations. 

Most cities have a mining ordinance, Looney said. 

“Health and safety is still the most important issue first and foremost,” he said. “The purpose (of the ordinance) is to protect the city of Granite Shoals in mining operations and also to work with developers and the miners to meet everybody’s needs and to make sure Granite Shoals prospers and develops in the coming years. We want to hear from everybody. I think this will benefit the entire city to have this ordinance.”

The Granite Shoals City Council meets in the upstairs Council Chambers at City Hall, 2221 N. Phillips Ranch Road. Check back with DailyTrib.com for details about the Feb. 8 meeting in the Government Meetings roundup for that week.

jfierro@thepicayune.com