Llano County passes resolution opposing plant



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Phil Reynolds/The Highlander
Leadoff speaker Fermin Ortiz makes a point in his argument against a rock crushing plant on Sandy Creek. Ortiz spoke during a hearing before Llano County commissioners on a resolution opposing the controversial project. Ortiz especially feared the problems he said would be caused by increased truck traffic.





By Phil Reynolds

The Highlander

A standing-room-only crowd of more than 50 filled the justice of the peace courtroom at the Llano County Law Enforcement Center Monday, cheering as county commissioners narrowly approved a resolution opposing a rock crushing plant on Sandy Creek.

The controversial proposal, submitted for approval to the Texas Commission on Environental Quality (TCEQ), would dredge sand from the creek and use it for other purposes. Neighbors are split on the idea, some saying it will improve the creek and others decrying possible environmental problems.

The resolution passed 3-2. County Judge Mary Cunningham voted against it, saying there are only two ways to control sand in a creek – by a dam and by dredging. Sand contained behind a dam will eventually fill up, she said. That leaves dredging, the process proposed by the application. Precinct 4 Commissioner Jerry Don Moss, who also voted against the resolution, explained that since commissioners have no power to either grant or deny the application it shouldn’t be on the agenda in the first place.

Precinct 1 Commissioner Peter Jones, who brought the matter to the agenda, pointed out that the application was only before the TCEQ and dealt only with air quality. Other agencies such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Lower Colorado River Authority, the Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department also will have a say in the matter, he said.

But “with the absence of any engineering data and with only nine days to provide comment, I believe we cannot support the project,” he said.

Altogether, 14 people signed up to speak to the matter. From the quantity and volume of applause, it was clear most of the crowd opposed the rock crushing plant. However, some speakers said they thought the plant would do some good.

Neighbors were respectful throughout the hearing with no taunting or interruptions as speaers made their points. Llano County Sheriff Bill Blackburn made it clear before the meeting began that disruptions would result on people being escorted from the room.

The jail,” he pointed out to laughter, “is right across the hall.”

The TCEQ is accepting comments on the proposal through Thursday, July 19. They may be mailed to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Office of the Chief Clerk, MC 105, P.O. Box 13087, Austin, TX 78711-3087; by electronic mail to www14.tceq.texas.gov/epic/eComment; or by fax to 512-239-3311.

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