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Meeting minutes: August 19, 2013


The meeting of the Neighbors of Spring Branch (NSB) was held at Spring Branch Fire Department Station at 9996 FM 311, Monday August 19, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.

Present: Sidney Atkinson, President; Becky Atkinson; Sandra Whitehead, Secretary and numerous neighborhood associates.

President Atkinson opened the meeting and requested a motion to approve August 12 minutes. Guy Anderson with Spring Branch Volunteer Fire Department amended these minutes regarding the cost for joining SBVFD by stating that people can become members of SBVFD at the cost of $30.00 a year, per family. As members, they can pay $10.00 a year (vs normal cost of $50.00 per family as non-members, per year) for air life services for their family. Upon joining, they can write their check for $40.00 a year, noting that $10.00 is for air life services. Note: SBVFD hold their annual meeting in March of each year. Since there is no provision for prorating the dues in their bylaws, joining at this time would mean membership is paid through March 2014. The cost for Air Life services is on an annual basis, as to the month that you join, for instance, if you join now, membership is valid August 2013-August 2014. An additional perk of membership is that each member can use this facility room once a year at no charge. (Non-members can rent this facility room at the cost of $25.00) Motion to approve the amended minutes was made by Trudy Thomas, seconded by Barbara Welch. Motion was approved.

Old Business: President Atkinson stated that one of our objectives is to give ourselves time to deal with Tex-Mix Concrete. We are now asking for a contested case hearing. Legal cost for a contested case hearing is about $50,000-$150,000 but even if we win in court, the decision can still be overruled. In light of this, our most pressing goal is to slow the process down to give us time to explore our options (possibly incorporating Spring Branch into a city to govern the growth along Hwy 281). The Emory & Annette Gass family are the only ones within the 440 yards impact rule from the Tex-Mix plant, and as such, are the only ones who can protest the concrete batch plant. Mr. Gass has severe breathing problems, which the contaminates in the concrete dust will exacerbate. He makes his living by farming, growing hay for cattle, and has water tanks with fish consumed by his family, all to be subject to the concrete dust. We obviously are all affected by this plant but because of the 440 yard rule, all we can do is support the Gass family, which we will do by writing to Texas Commission of Environmental Quality (TCEQ) www.tceq.state.tx.us/goto/comment. The deadline is August 26, but to ensure they arrive on time, all letters should be sent by August 24. Responding to some inquiries as to a general idea for their letter, Dr. Atkinson read a copy the letter he is submitting. He also encouraged all to ask as many questions as they may have regarding the air quality issue and the Tex-Mix Concrete Batch Plant,(reference: Tex-Mix permit #TCEQ #109839). TCEQ will respond to each of these letters in writing. This letter is extremely important, please advise your neighbors and friends of this issue and enlist their help as this plant will also affect their daily lives, as clean air is vital to all of us. We need all the help we can get and we would appreciate volunteer representatives from each neighborhood who would be willing to talk to their neighbors about Tex-Mix.

President Atkinson shared a copy of the Nuisance Rule as follows:

The Texas Administrative Code, Title 30: Environmental Quality, Part 1: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, Chapter 101: General Air Quality Rules, Sub-chapter A: General Rules,

Rule 101.4: Nuisance: No person shall discharge from any source whatsoever one or more air contaminants or combinations thereof, in such concentration and of such duration as are or may tend to be injurious to or to adversely affect human health or welfare, animal life, vegetation, or property, or as to interfere with the normal use and enjoyment of animal life, vegetation, or property.

Source Note: The provisions of this 101.4 adopted to be effective January 1, 1976.

In reference to this Nuisance Rule: we can ask for an explanation as to: What is considered a sufficient amount of contaminants (chromium fluoride) in the air?

Neighbors concerned about their well water supply if Tex-Mix is successful were advised that Tex-Mix apparently will contract with Canyon Lake Water for their operations. Canyon Lake Water claims they have enough water to serve all their customers for the next 50 years.

Sherry L. Mosier, Executive Director with the Bulverde Spring Branch Economic Development Foundation attended to advise and assist however possible. She will advocate a meeting between our Board and Tex-Mix to determine if any other option is available. (Perhaps the property for sale by Shamrock Plumbing, located near Spring Branch Store?) Ms. Mosier stated that she also contacted Commissioner Kennady to try to set some dialogue in motion. She further stated that Bulverde is not taking sides in this issue, however, she did contact some of the other sites where Tex-Mix has operations (Hutto, Liberty Hill, Leander, two sites in Austin) in an attempt to determine the relationship between Tex-Mix and these communities. David Mitchell, City Manager, City of Hutto indicated they have two plants in the area, one of which is outside the City and the other existed before the growth hit their area but is now within the City limits as the City eventually annexed the Tex-Mix property in November 2007.  Today they have residential developments that have popped up all around the plant but since his joining the City in 2009, he has only had one citizen complaint about the facility and that related to some nighttime vibration that was occurring to a nearby home as apparently Tex-Mix was conducting some operations at night for a large project but once the City advised of the complaint Tex-Mix rectified the issue.  Currently the City does not have the best of relationships with Tex-Mix as they are fighting the City’s taking of right of way for the expansion of FM 685 and arguably so as it will have an impact on Tex-Mix operations but the expansion is needed for the safety of the citizens, therefore, condemnation proceedings have begun as the City is ultimately financially responsible for delays in obtaining right of way.  Suggests that we make sure there is adequate queuing and staging areas for trucks to address future traffic issues.  However, despite the condemnation proceedings, the plants are economic generators for the area.  Aesthetically speaking, he wishes they would relocate the other plant outside the City limits, therefore, if Tex-Mix is offering landscaping to help with aesthetics and buffering of the plant, he would hold them to it. She stated that in her meeting with Tex-Mix, they said they are willing to add landscaping and plan to only utilize only 5 acres of 33 acres at this location. Becky Atkinson asked if Tex-Mix would be willing to put utilizing only five acres of the 33 acre tract in writing?

President Atkinson commented that Tex-Mix did not make an honest attempt to inform our community of their plans. Again, he emphasized that we must finish our letters of objection and submit them directly to TECQ, requesting a contested hearing, etc. by August 24. To assist those that are requesting help in composing their letter to TECQ, he will post a copy of his letter to TECQ on our web site. Members may cut and paste any portion of this letter to create their letter to TECQ or they may want to use his letter and add a notation that they are in agreement with his views. He also stated that members, if they choose, can also post a copy of their letter to our website: neighborsofspringbranch.org/phpbb2 under Bulletin Board.

President Atkinson reminded all that many people helping us are paying for the necessary operating items out of their own pockets at this time. For instance, Vice President Bill Wessale has spent about $1600.00 on the mailings and he also designed our website. Various other members have spent their money to help further our cause. He said we will soon have our tee-shirts available at a probable cost of $10.00 each and encouraged everyone to buy one as we are in need of raising funds as soon as possible. For additional fund raisers, we will need volunteers and are open to any ideas to raise revenue.

The date for our next meeting is expected to be in 2 or 3 weeks, with the exact date to be announced as soon as possible.

There being no further business, this meeting was closed at 8:35 p.m.