Hill Country groups wanting more local land-use control

A proposed rock quarry near residential areas is one reason local groups hope to resurrect a bill that could help protect nine Central Texas counties.

A proposed rock quarry near residential areas is one reason local groups hope to resurrect a bill that could help protect nine Central Texas counties.

Image description
String dust and controversy
Image description
A close proximity
Image description
NBF-2018-4-19-2
Image description
Vulcan Rock Quarry
Image description
The desire for more local control
As the second fastest-growing county in the country according to U.S. Census Bureau data, Comal County, like others in the Hill Country, is coming face to face with industries that want to set up shop on land that is becoming more and more precious.

Annalisa Peace, executive director of the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance and a registered state lobbyist, cites incompatible land use as the reason why the GEAA and other groups in the region hope to resurrect a bill in 2019 that did not get through in the 2007 legislative session.

“We have been working for the past more than 10 years to try to get the state to pass legislation that gives nine counties in the Hill Country area the ability to have some limited land-use control that would be contingent on the voters of each county voting to adopt that authority,” Peace said.

According to Peace, one of the most recent examples of incompatible land use in Comal County is a 1,500-acre rock quarry plant that is planned for a rapidly growing residential area.

House Bill 3447 was first introduced by Patrick Rose, a former Texas representative for District 45, which covers Blanco, Caldwell and Hays counties. If passed in 2019, it would give certain counties the authority to set land-use requirements to help protect citizens and the environment from negative impacts.

At its March 22 meeting, the Comal County Commissioners Court heard concerns from citizens regarding the construction of the rock-crushing plant that is being planned at Hwy. 46 and FM 3009 in New Braunfels.

Following the comments, the court voted unanimously to pass a resolution urging the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to consider citizen health and safety concerns before approving an air-quality permit that will authorize the construction and operation of Vulcan Materials Co., which operates 15 facilities in Texas.

“The judge and commissioners made clear that although they do not want a rock quarry to be placed in that area, either, the question is really what is the county authorized to do under state law?” said Paul Anthony, Comal County public information officer.

Because Texas counties are not authorized to make decisions regarding general land use, the resolution is an avenue for Comal County to urge the TCEQ and state legislators to use their expertise and authority “to protect the health, safety and welfare of the citizens and environment of Comal County.”

The New Braunfels City Council approved a similar resolution at its March 12 meeting that urges state lawmakers to heed citizen concerns surrounding the quarry, including increased dust emissions, defacement of the scenic hill country, water protection, increased heavy truck traffic and the loss of natural resources.

Around 500 Comal County residents expressed their concerns about the rock-crushing plant at a Feb. 27 public meeting, which concluded a formal public comment period, and TCEQ Spokesperson Andrew Keese said the executive director is currently reviewing the comments and preparing a formal response to them.

Vulcan Materials spokesperson Scott Burnham said Vulcan does not yet have a timetable of when the quarry would open, and Keese said the remaining process steps will take several months.

Burnham said Vulcan Materials Co. will next file for a storm water permit and is preparing a water pollution abatement plan that ensures the protection of water quality. The company is also working with the Texas Department of Transportation regarding road improvements at the property’s entrance.

“We’re committed to environmentally responsible operations and protecting the health and safety of the environment,” Burnham said. “The environment guides us in everything we do. We are a heavily regulated industry and will meet or exceed the guidelines that have been established by local, state and federal laws and regulatory agencies.”
By Rachel Nelson
Rachel Nelson is editor of the New Braunfels edition of Community Impact Newspaper. She covers local business, new development, city and county government, health care, education and transportation. Rachel relocated to Central Texas from Amarillo in 2009 and is a graduate of Texas State University's School of Journalism and Mass Communication.


MOST RECENT

Residents will have until May 2023 to obtain a Real ID. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
US Department of Homeland Security extends Real ID deadline until 2023

Drivers will have until May 2023 to get the Real ID, which will be required for adults boarding a U.S. commercial flight.

The building that once housed River Hofbrau has been through several changes in the last year. (Lauren Canterberry/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lucy Cooper’s Texas Ice House coming to former Hofbrau location in New Braunfels

The San Antonio-based restaurant will duplicate its recipe at the new location and is expected to open this summer.

Canvassed election results for the city of New Braunfels include 18 charter amendments and two City Council elections. (Courtesy Folio)
City of New Braunfels accepts results of May 1 election

Canvassed election results for the city of New Braunfels included 18 charter amendments and two City Council elections.

City Manager Robert Camareno said Keith Lane was selected from a list of 62 candidates. (Warren Brown/Community Impact Newspaper
Keith Lane sworn in as New Braunfels' top cop

City Manager Robert Camareno said Keith Lane was selected from a list of 62 candidates.

Susan Bailey was elected president of the American Medical Association in June 2020. (Courtesy American Medical Association)
'I am convinced we will beat COVID': American Medical Association President Susan Bailey discusses vaccine successes, myths, challenges

Bailey was elected president of the American Medical Association in June 2020. Much of the organization's focus during that time has been on vaccine transparency and distribution.

A large group of New Braunfels residents expressed displeasure with City Council over the city's growth and several rezoning ordinances under consideration. (Warren Brown/Community Impact Newspaper)
New Braunfels City Council meeting heats up over multifamily housing

A large group of New Braunfels residents expressed displeasure with City Council over the city's growth and several rezoning ordinances under consideration.

building
NBISD board of trustees finalizes superintendent appointment, swears in new member

Dr. Cade Smith will begin his role as superintendent in June.

In preparation for a 2023 bond election, New Braunfels' City Council voted to solicit a consultant to assist with updating its capital improvement plan. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)
New Braunfels to update capital improvement plan

In preparation for a 2023 bond election, New Braunfels' City Council voted to solicit a consultant to assist with updating its capital improvement plan.

Pfizer vaccines could become available to kids 12 and up as soon as next week. (Courtesy Adobe Stock/Graphic by Justin Howell/Community Impact Newspaper)
FDA expands Pfizer vaccine authorization to children ages 12 to 15 years old

This is the first time people under the age of 16 have been granted access to a coronavirus vaccine.

Butler Park Pitch & Putt reopened to the public in April. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Butler Park Pitch & Putt reopens in Austin; turf fields open in Pflugerville and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area.

Wag-A-Bag is headquartered in Round Rock. (Megan Cardona/Community Impact Newspaper)
Wag-A-Bag to operate under new ownership, name; Austin, TxDOT at odds over I-35 overhaul; and more top Central Texas news

Read the most popular business and community news from the past week from the Austin area.