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Collier Materials given more time to clarify Lake LBJ plant questions

Save Lake LBJ

A sign at the intersection of RM 2900 and CR 309 in Kingsland sums up some residents' feelings regarding a proposed sand-dredging operation on a ranch with Lake LBJ access. Staff photo

Collier Materials has until Oct. 20 to complete its response to technical review comments from the Lower Colorado River Authority on its applications for two sand-processing plants and two dredging operations on Lake LBJ. A major question that needs to be answered concerns a lease signed in 2020 by one of three owners of Hardin Ranch in Kingsland. One of the two owners not included on the lease has hired an attorney contesting it.

The time extension was granted on Sept. 14 at the request of Westward Environmental Inc. of Boerne on behalf of Collier Materials.

Collier Materials submitted four applications, two for sand-processing plants and two for dredging operations in the lake, on Jan. 18, 2021. Since that time, the LCRA has been seeking public comments and reviewing the applications. Opposition to the plants and dredging operations has been strong, resulting in town hall meetings and letters to the LCRA from state representatives. Save Lake LBJ, an ad hoc organization of people opposed to the operation, has been lobbying against granting the permits. 

“It is just a matter of wait and see what the next moves will be,” said Barbara Schmidt, a Save Lake LBJ member, when asked for an update on the situation. 

According to the LCRA’s Highland Lakes Dredging Ordinance and Highland Lakes Water Ordinance, extensions can only be granted for no more than 183 days from the date that applications for permits are filed. 

“As of Oct. 20, 2023, the cumulative amount of extension time used by the Applicant will be as described below,” reads a letter from LCRA Water Resources Director Tom Hegemier to Nicolas Mercado at Westward Environmental. 

The extension days described are: 

  • Kingsland I Highland Lakes Dredging Ordinance: 134 of 183 extension days
  • Kingsland I Highland Lakes Water Ordinance: 144 of 183 days
  • Kingsland II HLDO: 130 of 183 extension days
  • Kingsland I HLWO: 141 of 183 days

Applications for the four projects were deemed administratively complete by the LCRA in the early part of 2023. After review, the LCRA sent comments asking for additional information. Westward and Collier had 30 days to reply with answers. 

The applicant and LCRA exchanged information over the spring, eventually landing on a June 24 date as the deadline to submit final responses. That was extended to Sept. 8 and now to Oct. 20. 

LCRA comments include asking for slope maps, standalone construction plan sets, and a revegetation plan for all disturbed areas on the site, including seed, sod, mulch, and rate of application. 

Several comments were cleared by the time of the May 24 letter from the LCRA to Westward, while others were added or asked again for even more clarification. 

One major question involves ownership of the land and who is authorized to sign a lease for it. 

“If proof of ownership or control of the property within the scope of the application is a lease, please provide documentation demonstration authority of lessor to lease the property,” reads the final comment on the May 24 letter. 

The lease supplied to the LCRA was signed by Marsha Spinner in 2020. The terms of the lease memorandum name Spinner and Beverly Beheim, who are sisters, as sole members of Spinner Beheim, LLC, which owns the land. Lease terms are for 10 years with three, 10-year extensions. 

A letter sent to the LCRA from attorney Derek Seal, a partner at McGinnis Lochridge in Austin, disputes the authority of that lease as it leaves off a third owner, Helen Miles, who is Spinner and Beheim’s mother. All three own undivided property interests in Hardin Ranch.

In his letter, Seal also points out that Beheim does not recall agreeing to the lease. (Her signature is not on the copy obtained by DailyTrib.com.)

“No indication is made regarding the identities of the bona fide owners of the property where the processing activities would take place,” Seal writes in the conclusion of his letter to the LCRA. “Please provide any materials related to the application, any updates, and any permit decision, subject to the Public Information Act, so that Mrs. Beheim can pursue any appropriate appeals or legal challenges if the application is issued, including but not limited to an appeal pursuant to Section 11 of the Watershed Ordinance.” 

Calls to Seal and Mercado for comment were not returned by this story’s publication. 

suzanne@thepicayune.com