The legal battle over whether a rock quarry can move forward excavating materials near the Meyer Ranch and Vintage Oaks subdivisions in New Braunfels has ended, for now.

In October, the Texas Supreme Court denied a request by the Preserve Our Hill Country Environment Foundation and affiliated organizations of Comal County residents to rehear their case against the Vulcan Materials Company-Comal Quarry’s aggregate materials air permit, located in what was formerly known as the 1,500-acre White Ranch.

The backstory

Those groups 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.

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. Now the Texas Supreme Court has left that reversal in place. TCEQ Media Relations Specialist Ricky Richter said the air permit issued in 2019 is active. Vulcan Materials did not return calls for comment as of press time.

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
Next steps

Milann Guckian, president of PHCE, said the next avenue for preventing the quarry might be in a fight over water quality.

The quarry will still need to apply for a water pollution abatement plan due to its location as specified by TCEQ’s Edwards Aquifer Protection Plan. That will require additional public hearing processes, according to the TCEQ.

“Not only does White Ranch sit atop the [Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone] but the West Fork Dry Comal Creek runs through it, converging downstream with the Dry Comal Creek before merging with the Comal River in New Braunfels,” Guckian said in the statement.