Commissioners officially shun landfill project
By LPR Staff
In a largely symbolic vote on Monday morning, a majority of the Caldwell County Commissioners’ Court opted to stand in opposition to a proposed landfill project north of Lockhart.
Responding to months of pressure brought to bear by opponents of the 130 Environmental Park, and specifically the landfill com
ponent attached to the development, the Court on Monday approved a Resolution in Opposition to the Application for a Municipal Solid Waste Landfill permit. After lengthy discussion, the Court approved the resolution on a 4-1 split vote, with only County Judge Kenneth Schawe standing against the measure.
Noting that the County would be the first elected body to take such an action in opposition to the landfill project, Schawe expressed concern that the language of the resolution suggested the entirety of the Court stood opposed to the project, something he said he wasn’t certain of.
“I know there are pressures on the Commissioners,” he said. “I was hoping that people would come together and work together for the benefit of everyone.”
Schawe also noted uncertainty as to whether the Court’s resolution would hold any sway for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the branch of the Texas government which ultimately has authority over whether or not the development gains a permit.
Opponents of the landfill project shared information with the Court as to the nature of the dangers attached to developments such as the 130 Environmental Park, including traffic and litter dangers, as well as the potential for contamination of groundwater sources near the landfill site.
“We get the traffic from other counties for providing the water for their development,” Byron Friedrich said. “We get the garbage – we will take San Antonio’s and Austin’s garbage, and now there is a move afoot for a rail district to transport hazardous material through our county. We give up our water, and we get their garbage and hazardous rail traffic. What a deal!”
Commissioner Joe Roland introduced the resolution, stating his belief that opposing the landfill project would be best for the county at large.
However, opponents to the resolution suggested the language of the resolution was based in fear rather than fact, and urged the Court to tread carefully before entering the resolution as the County’s position. The most passionate of those comments came after the vote, because of a Court rule that public comments would be entertained for only 30 minutes at the beginning of business meetings, with any other comments to be heard at the end of the meeting.
“It’s kind of interesting to speak out about something that’s already done, but my conscience feels it best to speak out,” said Oscar Fogle. “I cannot believe that you slammed the door without even talking to anyone. If you couldn’t have negotiated a suitable host agreement, then pass a resolution. But why did you slam the door in their face? This court has a long-standing history of shooting themselves in the foot, and that’s why we’re one of the poorest counties in the state, and one of the most backwards counties in the state. And I feel like you’ve continued that tradition today.”
A draft of a Host Agreement that would have offered the County up to $1 per ton of trash received by the landfill site was delivered to the Commissioners last year, and was almost immediately “tabled indefinitely,” and never brought back for discussion.
Monday’s action by the Commissioners’ Court effectively takes that Host Agreement off the table, and allows Green Group Holdings, LLC, the corporation responsible for the development, to move forward without negotiation an agreement with the County, a notion that did not settle well with some members of the gallery.
“We’d be better off to have the host agreement and get something out of it,” Joe Kelly said.
Amid applause and disappointment, the Court voted 4-1 to enter the resolution in opposition to the landfill development. However, the move did not sway Green Group Holdings, who were issued registration for a transfer station, a prong of the development project, by TCEQ on Feb. 5, 2015.
“We’re disappointed that the Caldwell County Commissioners have chosen to pass a resolution in opposition to the 130 Environmental Park,” said David Green a vice president with Green Group Holdings. “We will move forward with the permitting process for 130 Environmental Park and we’ll continue to identify ways we can help and participate in the local community.”
The technical and administrative reviews of the Green Group Holdings permit application are complete, and a public hearing is scheduled on March 26, 2015, to begin the process of Contested Case Hearings, a series of administrative judicial hearings which are the next step in the permitting process.
Projected development of the landfill has not stymied growth in the area, as the Commissioners were also asked to consider the final plat for Phase II of Sunrise Meadows, an 84-lot subdivision on Barth Road, which is in general proximity to the proposed 130 Environmental Park project.
Despite concerns expressed by some area residents and Commissioners regarding deed restrictions and property management in the area the Court approved the final plat for the subdivision after learning the County can do little, if anything, to dictate the types of residences allowed in the subdivision, or the manner in which privately-owned properties are kept.
In brief news:
The Court heard departmental reports from the Environmental Investigator, the Building Maintenance Department and the SH 130 Concession Road Project Consultant.
They entered a resolution supporting Guadalupe County in requesting the Texas Legislature set an election for a Water-Oriented Recreation District on and around the San Marcos River.
The Court approved a petition for the creation of Caldwell County Emergency Services District No. 4, which will collect ad valorem taxes on behalf of the Mid-County Volunteer Fire Department.
They opted to leave off the outdoor burning ban.
The Caldwell County Commissioners Court meets on the second, third and fourth Monday of each month at 9 a.m. in the second floor courtroom of the Caldwell County Courthouse. The meetings are open to the public and webcast at www.co.caldwell.tx.us.