PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — More than 100 people from the community of New Sweden attended a public meeting in protest of a proposed concrete-batch plant. Nearly every neighbor who made a comment criticized the Texas Commission Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for “insufficient notification.”
According to the TCEQ notice of application for an air-quality standard permit, the site of the plant would be off Manda Carlson Road northeast of Manor — a developing but still rural area of Travis County.
Five Star Concrete submitted the application and declined to give a comment to KXAN at the public hearing.
Residents in this area have formed a group called ‘Save New Sweden’ in response to the company’s proposed plant. They said their goal is to stop the plant’s construction. The group cited concerns that it would bring noise and light pollution to the quiet, farming community.
“We don’t expect it to stay the same obviously, but people want to stand up and say this is not development that we want to have in such a wonderful vibrant neighborhood,” said Melinda Barker, an attendee of the Wednesday-night meeting.
TCEQ staff moderated the meeting, which became emotionally heated at times as impassioned speakers criticized the permitting process.
After one public commenter asked why they were not notified by the TCEQ of the plant and public hearing sooner, the TCEQ’s attorney on the panel shared the agency’s policy on notification.
She said the TCEQ is required by law to put a notice in one local newspaper in English and in Spanish. The attorney said the TCEQ fulfilled that requirement by publishing the notice in the Austin-American Statesman and El Mundo Newspaper.
After public questions and a short break, the hearing continued with formal comments from attendees.
No action was taken at the public hearing. The permit application continues through the TCEQ process.
When asked if concrete plants are safe, TCEQ sent this statement:
“When a company operates in compliance with the standard permit, they should not cause or contribute to a violation of the NAAQS and are protective of human health and the environment.” – TCEQ
Is TCEQ required to inform nearby residents about a new plant?
“A letter is sent to notify the County Judge of the receipt of an application for an air quality standard permit registration for a concrete batch plant with enhanced controls. In addition, as part of the air permitting process, the applicant is required to publish a formal public notice in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality in which the plant is proposed to be located or in the municipality nearest to the proposed location of the plant.” – TCEQ
What is the process of getting a concrete plant permitted in Texas?
“The process entails the applicant submitting an application to TCEQ for review. TCEQ conducts a technical review of the application and supporting documentation to ensure the requirements of the standard permit are met. Additionally, this standard permit requires that the applicant publish public notice as mentioned in the previous response. This standard permit requires a mandatory public hearing be held for each application. There is no opportunity for a contested case hearing under this standard permit authorization. The TCEQ Executive Director shall approve or deny the application not later than 35 days after the public hearing.” – TCEQ