Op Ed
From the Office of State Senator Troy Fraser

For Immediate Release
June 7, 2002
Contact: William A. Scott - (512) 463-0124

TNRCC to Conduct Public Meeting on Proposed Burnet Rock Crusher

By Senator Troy Fraser

AUSTIN -- Because of the large volume of letters, phone calls, emails and faxes I've received from Burnet County constituents in recent months, I wanted to update everyone on the status of the proposed rock crushing plant along Highway 281 just south of Burnet.

First, the Texas Natural Resources Conservation Commission (TNRCC) has granted my request to conduct a public meeting in Burnet. The time and place have not yet been finalized, but most likely it will be an evening meeting at the Burnet Community Center. As soon as the date is set, we will begin our efforts to get the word out through the local news media.

The meeting, which will be attended by TNRCC officials, will give everyone in the surrounding area an opportunity to have their concerns heard by the state agency that is empowered to grant or deny the air quality permit application submitted by Capitol Aggregates, Ltd. Judging by my mail, the meeting will be well attended. I have received scores of individual letters, and no fewer than 1,200 Burnet County residents have signed a petition stating their opposition to the rock crusher.

The Burnet County Commissioners, the Burnet and Marble Falls city councils, the Burnet Industrial Development Corporation and Bertram city officials all have expressed concerns -- or outright opposition -- to the proposed rock crushing facility.

Numerous concerns about the proposed facility are being raised: the potential impact on air quality and groundwater, the added traffic congestion on Highway 281, and the general degradation of the Hill Country's natural beauty that comes with quarrying operations.

In addition, the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), which is charged with protecting the water resources in the lower Colorado River basin -- including the Highland Lakes -- has indicated that it is also reviewing Capitol Aggregates' application to the TNRCC.

Hamilton Creek, which runs through the property on which the proposed mining operation would be located, is a tributary to Lake Travis. That has prompted LCRA's interest in terms of any permits that may be needed for potential pollution control, industrial storm water and wastewater discharge -- all important elements of protecting water quality. Although an overwhelming majority of Burnet County residents stated their opposition to the rock crusher, some said they are not convinced another rock crusher would be such a bad thing.

They point out, for example, that economic development in small communities is not easy. And, the argument goes, if such small communities or counties gain a reputation for being "anti-growth," other "cleaner" businesses may not consider relocation to that area.

Then the question becomes: is this the kind of new business that Burnet County wants to attract? And, by extension, is the number of new jobs created by the facility enough to justify any environmental impact to air and water quality?

These are questions that only Burnet County residents can answer, because it is they who are directly impacted. In the meantime, please let me know your thoughts this important issue, and please do not hesitate to contact my Marble Falls office at 830-693-9900 or my Capitol office at 512-463-0124.

State Senator Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay, represents a 21-county district that includes the Highland Lakes region.