FLINT — Arturo Lara and his family are worried about air quality and noise as a concrete batch plant has been proposed near a primarily residential area in Flint. They live in the Foxwood subdivision, which has an entrance about 180 feet south of the proposed construction.
His wife and two sons have asthma, and he said they’re especially concerned about the air.
“My kids already have asthma. We’re right next door to that. We’re like the second house that’s right here. I know they’re going to be making a lot of noise,” Lara said. “It’s already a peaceful neighborhood the way it is and that’s one of the reasons we moved here.”
In his 8 1/2 years of living in the subdivision, Lara said he’s never seen anything like this. If the plant were to be approved, he said they would probably move.
The Laras are just one family out of hundreds of residents who have expressed concerns about the possibility of a concrete plant coming to the area.
Tycon Ready Mix LLC has applied to register a concrete batch plant near Flint in Smith County, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The application states the plant’s entrance is proposed to be 180 feet north from the intersection of Hunters Trail and Burkett Road (County Road 139) in Flint.
According to a TCEQ statement, a technical review has been completed and the applicant is required to publish a notice in the newspaper. There is a 30-day comment period after the date of the publication. In this case, the notice was published in the Tyler Morning Telegraph on Jan. 27.
Flint resident Debora Burkett started the Facebook group, “Flint Concrete Plant Protesters,” on Wednesday to have a unified group to hear concerns from others. In just a day, the group has grown to over 400 members.
She said there are about four subdivisions right off Burkett Road.
After hearing rumors of the plant coming to the area, she saw the air-quality-permit sign posted Tuesday.
Burkett, who has lived in Flint for 44 years, said most of the neighbors are concerned about air-quality issues that can come from concrete plants. She also noted the possible mess and water runoff and large concrete trucks driving on the neighborhood roads.
The area is mainly residential, but it does have a few small businesses and storage facilities, Burkett said.
“There’s nothing like this,” she said. “This is not going to be residential-conducive. Why in the world a concrete plant would be built in a residential area is beyond me.”
She said there are a lot of children, retired people and families in the area. Grace Fellowship Church is also adjacent to the potential plant.
“Breathing clean air is important,” she said. “I think it would greatly affect the elderly, children or anyone.”
A meeting to discuss ideas and put plans together is set for 10 a.m. Saturday at Grace Fellowship Church, located at 18802 Farm-to-Market Road 2493 in Flint. Burkett said the meeting is about bringing resources together and to unify residents.
Lara, 43, said he doesn’t know why a place next to people’s homes would be chosen as a plant site.
“I mean it’s not like a radioactive plant, I know that, but it’s still concrete and there’s a lot of chemicals that’s mixed with sand that fly so many yards or feet away,” he said.
According to a TCEQ statement, public comments and public meeting and contested case hearing requests have been received for this application.
The commission will conduct a public meeting; however, it has not been scheduled yet. Once it is set, a notice of time, date and location of the meeting will be published by the applicant, according to the commission.
A contested case hearing is a legal proceeding similar to a civil trial in state district court, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. A hearing will only be granted “based on issues of fact that are relevant and material to the commission’s decision.”
“We’re willing to go all the way, and do the hard work that we have to do to see it’s stopped,” Burkett said. “We’re headed for success as far as we’re concerned.”
She welcomes anyone who lives in the area to come to the church Saturday.
Smith County Precinct 1 Commissioner Jeff Warr said the topic of the concrete plant has been placed on Tuesday’s Smith County Commissioners Court meeting agenda and people can speak about it during public comment period. The meeting is held at 9:30 a.m. in the Commissioners Courtroom on the first floor of the Annex Building at 200 E. Ferguson in Tyler.
He said he’s willing to hear from constituents in an effort to make issues understandable.
Under the law, Texas counties are not given planning and zoning authority, and if county officials are given power it’s very limited, Warr said.
Warr also contacted state Rep. Matt Schaefer about the residents’ concerns.
In a statement on Facebook Thursday, Schaefer acknowledged the concerned Flint residents.
“Today, I joined others in filing an official request with TCEQ to hold a public meeting regarding the company’s air-quality permit application. I’ve received word that the request will be granted. Details TBD,” he wrote in the post. “Every business of this nature must be accountable to abide by the laws and regulations in place, and I want to make sure that happens here. I will stay personally engaged throughout the process.”