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

Outdoor venues in all Texas counties will be permitted to operate at up to 25% capacity starting May 31. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Spectators to be welcomed back to Texas outdoor sporting events May 31 at 25% of venue capacity

Venue owners must operate under guidelines that facilitate appropriate social distancing.

Each eligible child will receive $285 in benefits. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Some Texas students eligible for one-time federal benefit to aid with food purchases

Texas received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide more than $1 billion in pandemic food benefits.

Comal County reported a new death related to the coronavirus, bringing the county's total to seven. (Courtesy Pexels)
BREAKING: Comal County resident's death related to COVID-19

It is the first resident death to be confirmed since April 13 and brings the county's total to seven.

Here are the latest coronavirus updates from Comal and Guadalupe counties. (Community Impact staff)
Comal and Guadalupe County report total of 221 COVID-19 cases

Between both counties, 11 new cases were reported today. Three of the five largest days for reporting since the pandemic began were in the last eight days.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar spoke to members of the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce on May 27 about what the state's post-pandemic economic turnaround might look like. (Screenshot of May 27 virtual luncheon)
Texas comptroller predicts slow, steady economic turnaround post-pandemic

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar said the state entered the era of the coronavirus in a healthy financial situation, which bodes well for the future as reopening continues, but that Texans are not out of the woods yet.

Comal ISD will host their monthly meeting May 28. (Ian Pribanic/Community Impact Newspaper)
Preview: Comal ISD to hold in-person meeting May 28

The Comal ISD board of trustees will discuss a parking lot expansion at Spring Branch Middle School, a potential attendance boundary change and the 2020-21 budget.

Nursing facilities across Texas will be able to apply for federal funds to purchase devices to connect residents to friends and family. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Gov. Greg Abbott announces $3.6 million project to connect nursing home residents to families

Gov. Greg Abbott announced May 27 that $3.6 million will be provided to nursing facilities to purchase tablets, webcams and headphones to connect residents with family members.

Amie Gonser will open 620 Art Gallery & Studio in June as a fine art gallery and space for art education classes. (Courtesy Amie Gonser)
IMPACTS ROUNDUP: News on 20 Central Texas businesses and nonprofits

Read about Central Texas business news from Community Impact Newspaper's coverage this week.

Voters are encouraged to bring their own equipment in order to prevent catching or spreading coronavirus.(Graphic by Matthew T. Mills /Community Impact Newspaper)
State of Texas releases voter health checklist for polling stations in June and July

Texas Secretary of State Ruth Hughs released a checklist May 26 for voters to follow to help prevent the spread of coronavirus at polls.

A rendering shows the new color schemes at Blastenhoff Tower. (Courtesy Schlitterbahn)
Schlitterbahn to reopen in mid-June at 25% capacity

The park can see more than a million guests in a season at full capacity.

Le Petit Parties Couture closed in March

The party venue hosted parties, playdates, etiquette lessons and more.

Former Mayor Barron Casteel (foreground right) stands in front of the dais and Mayor Rusty Brockman (background left) at Tuesday's City Council meeting, May 26, 2020.(Warren Brown/Community Impact Newspaper)
New Braunfels welcomes new mayor and council members

Two new council members were also welcomed to the dais and district 2 council member Justin Meadows was elected as Mayor Pro Tem.