Update 4:22 p.m., Jan. 22: This article has been updated with information and quotes from the city of Hutto.
Original post: Several Hutto homeowners, residents and city officials are prepared to voice their opposition to a proposed solid waste transfer site located in Hutto’s extraterritorial jurisdiction, or ETJ, in front of state officials at an official public comment period Jan. 22.
City and Hutto ISD officials, along with a large contingent of nearby homeowners, have all publicly voiced their opposition to the waste station ahead of the meeting at Robertson Elementary School, located at 1415 Bayland St., Round Rock. The public comment meeting, hosted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, begins at 7 p.m.
"We’re baffled as to how this came about," said Rita Snyder, a local resident who owns a home near the proposed waste transfer site. "If anybody came ... and looked at that location it would be so obvious it is the wrong location for anything of this magnitude."
According to records from the TCEQ, Lealco Inc., a subsidiary of Waste Connection Texas, submitted its first permit application on the property in August 2017.
The site is approximately one mile away from a Hutto ISD property that will soon be home to the district's upcoming ninth grade center, which will eventually expand into the district's second high school. Preliminary plans for that Hutto ISD property show potential elementary and middle school campuses as well.
In July, the HISD board of trustees voted to officially voice its opposition to Lealco's permit for the waste transfer site.
"The proposed transfers station will diminish the health, safety and welfare of the existing and future residents including the students attending future schools as early as August 2020," the district wrote in its resolution.
One month prior, Hutto City Council voted to officially oppose the permit application on the grounds it would adversely affect the city's ability to control growth in its ETJ.
The council at that time additionally authorized Hutto City Manager Odis Jones and City Attorney Mike Shaunessy to proceed with condemnation proceedings to block the waste station if necessary. Hutto Assistant City Manager Helen Ramirez told Community Impact Newspaper that option is still on the table if the permitting process continues moving forward.
"With any project the city can authorize the use of eminent domain for a public purpose. We can and we are currently considering the option," Ramirez said.
Ramirez and Hutto Mayor Pro Tem Tom Hines will be in attendance at the public hearing in Round Rock. Hutto on Jan. 22 requested a contested case hearing from the TCEQ over Lealco's permit in a letter sent to the state agency. Ramirez said the city has been requesting hearings on the proposed waste transfer station over the course of a year.
"We’ve been in constant communication with TCEQ asking for a hearing," Ramirez said. "They kind of forced the hand to having this public hearing. We hope it is an effective process."
In their separate resolutions, both the city and HISD cited concerns over the daily traffic the waste transfer site may draw in, as both resolutions saID the site could bring in 300 trucks during the day. City and HISD officials have also published concerns over environmental damage, noise pollution and odor concerns related to the waste transfer site.
Numbers from the TCEQ website show the waste transfer station permit has received 70 separate protests, including 56 written protests to the permit.
The Williamson County Association of REALTORS in July 2018 submitted a signed letter to the TCEQ announcing its opposition to Lealco's permit, citing concerns over traffic, health, noise and city planning.
"The city of Hutto has worked hard to form a long‐range plan to address future growth. The solid waste transfer station interferes with that plan," the Williamson County Association of REALTORS wrote in the letter.
Snyder said nearby homeowners are concerned with tanking property values and maintaining peace and quiet. The Williamson County landfill and recycling center is located on an adjacent site to the proposed waste transfer station, and while Snyder says the landfill and recycling center are good neighbors, she reports the noise and activity from the property is noticed throughout the day.
"If we have 300 trucks a day, it is going to almost impossible to sell our homes for what we paid for them," Snyder told Community Impact Newspaper.
Read the full public hearing notice below: