The city of McKinney is moving forward with the closings of two concrete batch plants despite a federal lawsuit from the owner claiming the city's methods are illegal.

The McKinney Board of Adjustments agreed Aug. 29 that one of the plants, Martin Marietta, had until April 29, 2021, either to close or to come into compliance with the zoning ordinance for that area. The board is tentatively scheduled to consider a similar date for the CowTown Redi-Mix plant during its Sept. 30 meeting.

The two plants, CowTown Redi-Mix and Martin Marietta, produce ready-mix concrete and operate on about 10 acres along Hwy. 5.

The city has been trying to close the plants and said in court documents that it is doing so legally. The process—known as amortization—began earlier this year with the identification of land uses that are not allowed under the current zoning, after which landowners are given a certain amount of time to shut down.

The plants’ concrete operations are on land that was rezoned by the city in April 2019 for regional office use.

However, TXI Operations, the owner of the concrete plants, has said that the city is misusing its authority “with the goal of forcing a lawful business to shut down” so that the city of McKinney “can obtain valuable property for cheap,” according to the legal complaint filed with the U.S. District Court in April.

The lawsuit goes on to claim that for over two years, McKinney has illegally targeted the plant, an effort which has included saying that the plant was in violation of city code provisions because it did not have an approved site plan. The lawsuit also claims that the city arranged for multiple noise violation citations to be issued “for the purpose of harassing the Plaintiff,” according to the suit. Another claim the suit makes is that the city changed the zoning for the concrete plants without providing proper notice.

“The City’s goal is to force Plaintiff to close its lawful business so that the City can acquire the Property at little cost—apparently to build a park, according to City’s own Parks and Open Space Master Plan,” the company's complaint states.

The attorney for the concrete batch plants did not respond to requests for comment. The city of McKinney filed a motion to dismiss the case, but the court denied that motion Aug. 11 and said that TXI Operations has stated "plausible claims."

The city’s response to the complaint, filed Aug. 25, denies the allegations and demands strict proof for the claims from TXI Operations. While McKinney has enforced its code of ordinances, it has not done anything illegal, the response states. The city's response further requests that all of TXI Operations claims against the city be “dismissed with prejudice,” according to case documents.

According to Michael Quint, the executive director of Development Services for McKinney, the lawsuit “has less to do with the ongoing amortization processes and more to do with the city-initiated rezoning request, which made the uses at the properties in question nonconforming."

State officials have said the plants pose no immediate health threat. Despite this, McKinney City Council initiated the amortization process at a Dec. 3 meeting with a resolution that cited the “numerous health and nuisance incidents” at the properties since 2017.

McKinney residents have filed complaints over the years about noise, light and dust pollution coming from the batch plants. Both plants are located within 500 feet of the nearest homes. In 2018, citations were issued to Martin Marietta for violating the city’s noise ordinance. CowTown also has violated the city’s stormwater runoff ordinances, according to Quint, and in July 2019, an estimated 8,000 pounds of cement dust were released, polluting a nearby neighborhood. Martin Marietta told state regulators that its equipment had malfunctioned.

City officials have attempted to work with the plants but have “not been able to reach an agreed solution,” the December resolution stated.

Find more information and updates regarding the amortization process here.