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Editors note: At the 9/26/05 Commissioners Court, several Center Point residents, with the support of Commissioner #2 Bill Williams, asked the Court to pass a resolution calling on TCEQ to hold local public hearings on potential air and noise pollution from a proposed commercial rock-crushing operation. The story below by Zeke MacCormack was written for the San Antonio Express-News.

 

   At the end of the discussion, Center Point resident Raul Pena questioned the Court as to whether the Appraisal District had investigated all the mining sites receiving agricultural exemptions that were mentioned at the Scott Pope workshop covered in our article, Surface mining on agriculturally exempt lands" (return to home page for this article).

   Commissioner Letz quickly and confidently assured Mr. Pena, with the assent of Tax Assessor/Collector Paula Rector who was seated in the courtroom, that "everything had been taken care of" and there were no outstanding issues. As you can read for yourself in our original article, this is not the case, though  Mr. Letz and Ms. Rector choose to believe it. It is not actually known how many agriculturally exempt acreages are conducting mining, since no one is investigating or even looking for them.

   We ask any reader with information about abuses to bring it to our attention at taxpayerswatch@yahoo.com, and we will take that information to the KCAD and request that it be investigated.

 

 

 

 

 

Quarry plan stirs concerns

Web Posted: 09/27/2005 12:00 AM CDT

Zeke MacCormack
Express-News Staff Writer

 

CENTER POINT — A quarry's request for a state permit to operate a rock crusher has sparked concerns about possible detrimental effects on air quality, Guadalupe River water, property values and the health of area residents. Bill Williams successfully lobbied fellow Kerr County commissioners Monday to pass a resolution calling on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to hold local public hearings on the plan by Wheatcraft Inc. to emit dust from its new quarry.

      The Kerrville company, which is mining dirt and rock on about 10 acres on a 170-acre site on Texas 27, wants to crush up to 200 tons of rock hourly, officials said, generating up to 13.1 pounds of "particulate matter" each hour, or 10.9 tons a year. Quarry owner Jerry Wheatcraft said the crusher would operate only four days a week, up to seven hours a day.

      "We're going to meet all necessary requirements to obtain a permit," he said during a site tour Monday. "With a properly issued permit, no one should be affected."

      But the plan was decried earlier by a handful of area residents who said they'd already gathered 125 names on a petition opposing the permit.

      "It's really going to be detrimental to the health and also the environment," Robert Ligon told commissioners. Opponent John Kovacs predicted a rock crusher also would hinder economic development in the small town in eastern Kerr County. "It's going to keep people from coming in," he said.

      Another Center Point resident, Sandy Pena, said the issue is larger than Wheatcraft's quarry.

She urged officials "to keep Kerr County from becoming a moonscape of quarries and other rock mining operations." Commissioner Jonathan Letz said the county can oversee development in the flood plain, but noted that "the county has no authority to regulate pits."

     Though supportive of state-sponsored hearings and getting answers to questions about health concerns, some were reluctant to oppose the quarry venture based on the dire predictions of its critics.

     Commissioner Buster Baldwin said the state is charged with regulating air quality.

     Williams said air quality is only one of the concerns raised by Wheatcraft's proposal.

     "He has every right to conduct legal mining. The only issue here is the uncontrolled release of particulate matter into the air," Williams said. "We're seeking a contested hearing so we can discuss appropriate remedies on the permit."

      He said other issues to be examined include whether the Guadalupe River may be affected by sediment runoff from the quarry, petroleum runoff, water usage and the health ramifications of dust generated by the quarry.  Andrea Morrow of the TCEQ in Austin said the public has until Oct. 6 to submit initial comments on the permit application, which is administratively complete.

     She said it hasn't been determined if an air dispersion model will be required of Wheatcraft, who does business as Rhodes Pit.

                               

                             

 

 

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