Residents spoke at final hearing before fate of project is decided

At a contested case proceeding March 6, area resident Michael Zimmerman reviews the boundary map of the proposed  Vulcan Quarry with Vulcan legal representatives to debate the inclusion of his property as an affected area.

At a contested case proceeding March 6, area resident Michael Zimmerman reviews the boundary map of the proposed Vulcan Quarry with Vulcan legal representatives to debate the inclusion of his property as an affected area.

Image description
Tracking the process
Image description
Close to home
Image description
The six-month-long contested case proceeding regarding an air quality permit for Vulcan Construction Materials began March 6 at the Comal County Courthouse. Approximately 200 area residents gathered in the courtroom to protest the permit for a quarry and rock-crusher to be built along State Hwy. 46 and FM 3009.

After two public comment periods in 2017 and 2018, the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality (TCEQ) turned the case over to the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) which will conduct the proceedings.

SOAH Judge Rebecca Smith held the March 6 hearing and finalized the list of affected parties, which includes Comal ISD, Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry, the Smithson Heritage Valley Oaks POA, and others. The case must be determined within 6 months.

“The administrative law judge will make recommendations to the commissioners of the TCEQ for their consideration in approving or denying the permit application,” Andrew Keese, public relations specialist at TCEQ said.

Because the rock-crushing machinery is portable and could potentially be transported to different areas within the quarry’s land, many residents were concerned that their homes may be affected, even though they were outside of the affected area indicated in Vulcan’s proposed map. Smith allowed residents up to five miles away to be included in the case.

Those that spoke at the hearing brought up concerns about air quality and dusty winds; local roads and increased traffic; the effects on animals from earth tremors during quarry blasts; and water quality and conservation, as the quarry is located on the Trinity and Edwards Aquifers.

Chris Hopmann, spokesman for the Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry group, said the quarry may even bring down home values in the surrounding area as well.

“This is a beautiful property,” Hopmann said. “And there are people with homes and businesses out here who are going to be hurt by this.”

Vulcan Construction Materials says rock will only be extracted from above the water table, and the water they use will be recycled.

Of the 1,500 acres of Vulcan property, they say 60 percent will be used for mining while the remaining 600 acres will be saved for setbacks, non-mining use, and natural landscape.

Though based in Alabama, Vulcan operates 15 quarries throughout Texas, and has been mining in the San Antonio area since the 1970s. Spokesman Scott Burnham said the company is aware of the requirements to operate in Texas.

“We operate in one of the most regulated industries in the country,” he said. “For more than a year, we’ve been listening and working with the community on developing a safe and responsible plan.”

When Smith makes a recommendation to TCEQ at the end of the contested case, Hopmann said it is likely that TCEQ will uphold that opinion, though there have been instances in the past when they have overruled it. Hopmann said he would expect to see either side of the case appeal, depending on the outcome.


New Postal Annex to open in June in Freiheit Village

The business will offer shipping, copy services, mailbox rentals, notary services and more.

The new materials will be used for English Language Arts and Advanced Academic classes for grades 6-12. (Courtesy Pexels)
New Braunfels ISD to adopt new English Language Arts materials

The materials will be used for ELA and Advanced Academics classes for grades 6-12.

New Braunfels had 61 confirmed cases of the coronavirus on May 30, up from 31 at the end of April, a 96.7% increase. (Community Impact staff)
COVID-19 cases up 96% in New Braunfels this month, 75% between Comal and Guadalupe County

30% of Comal County's cases were community transmitted and 28% were from close contacts, such as household members that had previously tested positive.

The Gruenefield development is currently in the Hoffman Lane Elementary School attendance zone but could be moved to the Oak Run Elementary School zone. (Courtesy Comal ISD)
Comal ISD Board of Trustees to vote on attendance zone change

The development could bring approximately 80 additional elementary school students to Comal ISD.

(Courtesy Fotolia)
New school schedules and a road opening: Latest news from Central Texas

Read the latest news from Community Impact Newspaper's coverage of the Central Texas area.

Comal and New Braunfels ISDs will continue school lunch pickup options through the summer. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Comal, New Braunfels ISDs to continue curbside meal pickup through June

Summer meals will be provided at several campuses in each district to continue the ongoing curbside meal programs.

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.