Mansfield News-Mirror

Residents’ fight against concrete plant going all the way to the state for hearing

Larry Smitherman stands in front of his pond where his family enjoys fishing and kayaking. The land to the west is slated to become a concrete batch plant.
Larry Smitherman stands in front of his pond where his family enjoys fishing and kayaking. The land to the west is slated to become a concrete batch plant. Special to the Star-Telegram

The fight to stop a concrete batch plant from locating on a rural, residential street in unincorporated Tarrant County will go to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality later this year for a contested hearing.

Bosque Solutions plans to build a concrete batch plant at 7237 Gibson Cemetery Road in Tarrant County near several neighborhoods and upwind of several Mansfield ISD schools. Residents oppose the plan, saying it will increase traffic, noise and air pollution, destroying the country lifestyle on their properties.

They’ve created a Facebook page dedicated to stopping the concrete plant.

The residents have rallied Texas lawmakers, Tarrant County commissioners and Mansfield City Council members to their cause and it’s likely their testimony at previous hearings that convinced the TCEQ to take up the case, said Patricia Baines, whose family has owned the property to the west of the proposed site for about 60 years.

“You consider all those gravel haulers that are bringing in materials plus the concrete trucks that are backing up to the property,” Baines said. “The noise level. The constant noise would be 24/7. He’d be allowed to do that. Just because we live in an unincorporated area doesn’t mean we don’t have rights as property owners.”

Bosque Solutions is seeking an air quality permit, the final step to authorize construction of the batch plant. The permit would allow hundreds of cement trucks per day while the plant itself could limit up to 13 tons of particulate matter into the air. It would have the ability to run 24 hours a day.

John Sheffield, the president of Bosque Solutions, said the project will fully comply with TCEQ health regulations.

“The TCEQ has designed health standards for batch plant operations, which we are fully prepared to comply with,” Sheffield said. “These standards are designed to be fully protective of residential rural settings.”

The contested hearing, which has not yet been scheduled, will focus on Baines and other residents who live within 440 yards of the proposed concrete plant. It’s unclear whether residents who live outside that radius, including elected officials, will be allowed to testify.

But that didn’t stop the rest of the neighborhood from creating a GoFundMe page to raise money for legal fees to fight the plant.

The residents who testify at the hearing in opposition will have to show how the TCEQ permit won’t be protective, Sheffield said.

The Mansfield City Council voted unanimously to oppose the concrete batch plant and sent a letter to the TCEQ opposing it.

“Hopefully they can convince the TCEQ that it would be detrimental to the families to allow a batch plant to open,” said City Councilman Terry Moore. “I respect his rights to open a business but we don’t need that type of business in that area.”

They worked with Bosque Solutions to find an alternate location that wouldn’t impact homes.

“We were trying to help him accomplish his business goal just in a better place,” Moore said. “He was not a fan of our alternate site.”

Texas Rep. Bill Zedler, R-Arlington, has been outspoken against the proposed plant, saying it’s a heavy industrial use.

“They want to put this batch plant right smack dab in the middle of residential areas,” Zedler said in previous testimony to the TCEQ. “A blowout or any other non-compliant event will directly and adversely impact those residents 24/7 until it is resolved.”

The area around the site has numerous homesteads, horse farms, suburban neighborhoods and estates. The parade of cement trucks and supply trucks will kick up dust if the road isn’t paved. The residents were told the road will be kept wet, which raises additional concerns about the runoff going into a neighboring pond.

Residents are also concerned because the Mansfield ISD school bus stop for their area is right at the driveway for the concrete plant.

Resident Shawn Moore, a contractor, said concrete plants run primarily at night in the summer.

“We start pouring concrete in the summertime at 1 a.m. so we can be done before the day gets hot,” Shawn Moore said. “We’ll be hearing this noise all night long.”

They are also worried that Sheffield doesn’t have the expertise to run a concrete batch plant.

“The guy knows nothing,” Shawn Moore said. “He’s never done it before.”

Often, the TCEQ relies on the operator to police and monitor his equipment to stay in compliance.

Texas Sen. Beverly Powell, D-Fort Worth, also opposes the concrete plant.

At a hearing last year, Sheffield told the TCEQ that there’s a lot of misinformation going around about what he plans to do on the site. He said it would be a wet mix plant where the ingredients are mixed as the cement truck arrives — there would be no burning like the large concrete plants in Midlothian do.

He also said he would have five or six trucks coming and going, each doing four or five loads a day. He said the dust collectors and other emission controls all meet TCEQ standards for the Clean Air Act.

Residents have vowed to fight the project in court if the contested case hearing fails.

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