On Sept. 20, Toby Baker, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality executive director, issued a decision stating the landfill’s permit application to expand the landfill by 32 acres and increase the landfill’s height by 20 feet meets the requirements of applicable law.
However, this decision does not mean the landfill can begin construction immediately.
“This decision will be considered by the commissioners at a regularly scheduled public meeting,” according to the decision letter.
The commissioners’ meeting for Greenhouse Road Landfill’s permit has not been scheduled yet. Rodrigo Cantu of Lone Star Aid, which is representing two homeowners near the landfill who oppose the expansion, said the TCEQ chief clerk will try to schedule this meeting at the end of 2019 or early 2020.
Those who oppose the expansion can request a reconsideration of the executive director’s decision as well as apply for a contested case hearing by Oct. 21. A contested case hearing is a legal proceeding conducted by the state office of administrative hearings to review the permit application and hear arguments for and against the expansion, according to the TCEQ.
"Greenhouse must be scheduled before TCEQ’s commissioners to consider any requests for a contested case hearings," said Andrew Keese, a TCEQ media relations specialist. "The agency has received several such requests. If any of the contested case hearing requests are granted, Greenhouse will be referred to the state office of administrative hearings. After the SOAH process, Greenhouse would again be scheduled before TCEQ’s commissioners for final consideration of the permit."
Stop Greenhouse Landfill, an organization that opposes the landfill's expansion, is doing advocacy efforts to collect letters asking for a reconsideration of the executive director’s decision from community members, said Gary Brown, who heads the organization. Brown and others have also applied for a contested case hearing.
Greenhouse Road Landfill, an affiliate of G.O. Weiss Inc., did not respond for comment.
In addition to issuing a decision, the TCEQ executive director also crafted a response to public comments. The TCEQ collected nearly 600 comments from community members between December 2016 and March.
The response addressed 34 concerns brought up in the comments and concluded no changes were needed to draft permit.
These concerns included worries about health, drainage, odor, dust, air emissions, traffic, operating hours, property values, vectors such as rats and operating procedures at the landfill.
The TCEQ’s response to many of these issues was that the permit application materials meet TCEQ rules and requirements and are enforceable if the permit is issued.
If community members suspect noncompliance, they can contact the TCEQ Houston office at 713-767-3500 or call the 24-hour toll-free environmental complaints hotline at 888-777-3186, according to the director’s response.
Another concern brought up in public comments alleges the landfill has not fulfilled some provisions of a 2000 settlement agreement with residents of Rolling Green Subdivision and Harris County.
TCEQ’s response reiterated that Greenhouse Road Landfill’s permit to expand meets all applicable legal and technical requirements.
It added, “The TCEQ is not a party to the prior settlement agreement and, therefore, cannot comment on the terms that are, or have been, considered by those parties involved in the negotiation of that agreement.