Protesters gather along Hwy. 71 against possible Spicewood quarry

Spicewood resident Michael Wright (front) stands with other protesters along Hwy. 71 in Spicewood.

Spicewood resident Michael Wright (front) stands with other protesters along Hwy. 71 in Spicewood.

Threatening rain clouds did not stop a small but enthusiastic contingent of protesters from getting their message out Saturday morning in the unincorporated community of Spicewood in Burnet County.

Attendees gathered at 103 Vista View Trail at the corner of West Hwy. 71 and Vista View Trail at the entrance to Doublehorn Estates to protest a proposed quarry and rock crushing plant that may move in to the area.

New York-based Dalrymple Construction Companies proposed the plant that would be called Spicewood Crushed Stone LLC, according to a standard permit application submitted to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. It would be located across from the existing Vulcan Materials Company quarry and between two residential neighborhoods: Double Horn Creek and Spicewood Trials.

Protesters told Community Impact Newspaper they are tired of companies that create large environmental impacts and lower property values coming into their community, a process made easier by what they describe as loose permitting guidelines from the TCEQ.

Grant Dean, executive director of the Texas Environmental Protection Coalition, led the group of about 70 people, which also included local government officials, developers, residents of the Double Horn and Spicewood Trails neighborhoods and members of area environmental groups.

“We’re trying to impress upon these guys that they are not welcome here, and we are not going to be good neighbors,” Dean said. He added if Dalrymple continues its efforts to move into the Spicewood neighborhood, he and his supporters intend to do everything they can to create an inhospitable environment for the company.

“We’re not turning our back and rolling over anymore,” Dean said. “They’re not going to roll over Texans like they have done for years. They can do it legally, but they’re not going to do it morally any longer.”

Steve Barnes said he is about to move into the Spicewood area, and he wants to add to the numbers of people upset about the negative effects, both financially and environmentally, for residents if another quarry moves into the area.

“We want to hold them accountable, but I don’t think we’re going to stop this,” Barnes said.

Spicewood Community Alliance Secretary Marlowe MacIntyre said she is hoping her group can raise awareness and increase regulatory demands on asphalt companies.

One strategy MacIntyre has not ruled out as a possible guard against what she calls heavy industry is to incorporate the community of Spicewood.

“Otherwise we’re at the mercy of heavy industry,” she said. “We’re unincorporated so we’re going to be the dumping grounds.”

Burnet County Commissioner for Precinct 4 Joe Don Vickery said he attended the protest because he wanted to support his constituents.

Vickery said that the county is not necessarily advocating for zoning authority, but officials would like to have land use compatibility authority that would ramp up distance requirements between industrial operators and residential areas, in this case referring to residents of Double Horn Creek and Spicewood Trails.

“People invest their life savings and their homes to come out here and build in the Hill Country area only to have something of an industrial nature placed right in between those two subdivisions,” he said.

Because of a lack of statutory authority provided by Burnet County, any change of heart from Dalrymple Construction Companies is largely up to the residents of Spicewood, Vickery said.

“They have to band together and do what they can, whether it’s civilly or whether it’s in the nature of protest,” he said.

Protests are planned to continue Sunday, Sept. 9, as well as for the following weekend on Sept. 15 and 16, according to Dean.

Dalrymple Construction Companies, the New York-based aggregate and asphalt business proposing the Spicewood quarry, has so far not returned calls from Community Impact Newspaper.
By Brian Rash
Brian has been a reporter and editor since 2012. He wrote about the music scene in Dallas-Fort Worth before becoming managing editor for the Graham Leader in Graham, Texas, in 2013. He relocated to Austin, Texas, in 2015 to work for Gatehouse Media's large design hub. He became the editor for the Lake Travis-Westlake publication of Community Impact in August 2018.


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