Mansfield News-Mirror

Tarrant County neighbors fight for ‘right to not have a cement plant’ in back yards

Angry residents Thursday said a proposed concrete batch plant would destroy their country lifestyle in unincorporated Tarrant County near Mansfield.

A standing-room-only crowd expressed frustration at the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality hearing that many of their concerns — including diesel from cement trucks and water quality — were outside the jurisdiction of TCEQ.

State Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, worked with State Sen. Konni Burton, R-Colleyville, to set up the hearing at Red’s Roadhouse in Kennedale. He strongly opposed the project and said he would explore what could be done to change the law to protect residents from future projects like this.

“I will do whatever I can do to oppose this plant being put here,” Zedler said. “We have a batch plant wanting to move right into the center of where a neighborhood is.”

A company called Bosque Solutions has proposed the concrete batch plant at 7327 Gibson Cemetery Road. There are concerns about particulate matter, silica and other emissions from the plant.

More than two dozen people spoke and there were more than 400 people in the crowd.

They said they enjoy the clean air, lighter traffic and slow lifestyle in the area. Many raised concerns about asthma, bronchitis and other pulmonary complications for children and elderly residents.

“I’m here to plead with you to not permit this application,” said Vicki Polson, who lives next door to the site.

“I should have the right to not have a cement plant in my back yard. My son was 4 years old when he was prescribed the use of an inhaler. This plant would impede my whole family’s ability to enjoy our property.”

Patricia Baines has lived the majority of her 73 years on the property — her father bought it in the late 1950s.

“My life is physically and emotionally tied to this land,” Baines said.

Mansfield resident Houston Mitchell said the roads in the area can’t handle cement trucks or 18-wheelers delivering material to the batch plant.

“This is going to be a 24-hour operation. He doesn’t care what any of these people think,” Mitchell said. “You’re giving a permit to a guy who has never done it before. He’s never owned a concrete batch plant.”

John Sheffield, COO of Bosque Solutions, said he has two concrete trucks now but plans to get three or four more. Each truck could handle three full loads of concrete per day.

The facility would be a wet mix plan where the ingredients are mixed as the cement truck arrives. There would be no burning involved like the large concrete plants in Midlothian.

Sheffield said he would have five or six trucks operating there “as long as I own it.”

“The equipment’s all going to be brand new,” he said.

He said his dust collectors would exceed TCEQ requirements. The state agency typically grants air permits if projects meet the standards of the Clean Air Act.

Charles Crook said he’s frustrated that the TCEQ hearing couldn’t address diesel exhaust, water runoff or other concerns — they could only deal with air quality from the batch plant itself. TCEQ officials referred questions on those issues to other state or federal agencies.

A chorus of boos and jeers erupted from the crowd.

“You guys have to be somewhat connected,” Crook said.

He’s also concerned that the facility could be sold to a larger concrete company and the facility would be permitted to run 24 hours a day.

“You can’t wait to sell it to Redi-Mix Concrete and we know it and you know it,” Crook said.

Though it’s outside the city limits, the Mansfield City Council passed a resolution opposing the concrete plant at its meeting this month.

Councilman Terry Moore said he doesn’t live near the proposed site but he has concerns about how it could affect northwest Mansfield.

“Our concerns are air. Our concerns are water,” Moore said. “It’s going to affect Mansfield one way or another. It’s going to flow south into Mansfield.”

He then addressed Sheffield directly.

“I wish you would basically pull back your permit. I wish you would change your mind,” Moore said.

Tarrant County Precinct 2 Commissioner Andy Nguyen, who represents the area, said he also asked Sheffield to withdraw the permit.

“These are their livelihoods, you have heard the stories,” Nguyen said. “I will work with you to find another location that’s suitable for this business. But not here.”

He asked the TCEQ if they consider the medical conditions of the people who live around the proposed site. He also asked what happens if the safety mechanisms fail.

“You can’t go back and extract the particles that these people breathe in,” Nguyen said.

He’s also concerned about the damage to the county roads, which Tarrant County officials would have to pay to rebuild.

“I understand that you’re just looking at the air quality but I ask that you take a look at the bigger picture.”

Residents requested a case hearing for the proposal that would be similar to a civil trial with sworn testimony and witnesses. That would then be presented to the TCEQ commissioners.

If that fails, residents vowed to fight the concrete batch plant in court.

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