A legal back-and-forth over whether a rock quarry can move forward excavating materials near the Meyer Ranch and Vintage Oaks subdivisions in New Braunfels is heading to the Texas Supreme Court.

The backstory

Since 2017, Vulcan Materials Company Comal Quarry has been in a legal dispute with community activist groups Stop 3009 Vulcan Quarry, Friends of Dry Comal Creek, Preserve Our Hill Country Environment, or PHCE, and other community members that brought a legal case against the establishment of rock crushing at the site, located near the intersection of Hwy. 46 and FM 3009 just west of New Braunfels.

In November 2019 the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, or TCEQ, granted Vulcan Materials an air permit. State District Judge Maya Guerra Gamble vacated the permit in March 2021, siding with Friends of Dry Comal Creek.

Last September, a retired judge sitting “by assignment” on behalf of the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals—Judge J. Woodfin Jones—reversed the March 2021 ruling, writing that “substantial evidence supports the commissioners’ determination that the proposed plant’s crystalline silica emissions will not negatively affect human health or welfare,” according to the legal opinion.

The specifics

If the quarry ultimately proceeds forward, according to Vulcan Materials it would total 1,500 acres located within the Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone, including:
  • 600 acres or more of buffering setbacks and nonmining areas
  • No more than 50 acres would be mined in the first decade of operation.
  • 80-year estimate on the life of the mine before it’s depleted
What’s next?

On July 31 the community groups in opposition filed a petition for review to the Texas Supreme Court to review and reverse the 3rd Court of Appeals decision that reversed the trial court’s judgment.

According to the Texas Supreme Court’s schedule on their website, the case was forwarded to the court Aug. 29.

In a statement, PHCE Communications Director David Drewa said, “The panel showed no regard for relevant legal issues raised by Texans living and working in the area and essentially concluded Vulcan’s claims seem fine, and we trust them, no need to verify—or even see—the underlying data.”

TCEQ Media Relations Specialist Ricky Richter said in a statement that due to the fact the permit is being litigated, TCEQ does not have a comment at this time. Vulcan Materials also did not return calls for comment as of press time.

PHCE President Milann Guckian said the umbrella of organizations will simultaneously pursue other options, such as watershed protection, while awaiting the outcome of the case.