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Spicewood neighbors fighting TCEQ as agency considers granting permit for rock crusher

Spicewood neighbors are used to noise from Highway 71 and a nearby rock quarry. But soon, the noise may be worse, if the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality - or TCEQ - approves permits that would allow a rock crusher facility to be built between two home subdivisions. (CBS Austin)

Spicewood neighbors are used to noise from Highway 71 and a nearby rock quarry. But soon, the noise may be worse, if the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality - or TCEQ - approves permits that would allow a rock crusher facility to be built between two home subdivisions.

On Thursday, TCEQ officials held an information meeting on the permitting process for this facility.

Neighbors spent much of the meeting shouting out in disagreement over various statement officials made, and urging TCEQ to deny the permit to Spicewood Crushed Stone LLC, which is the company trying to build the crushed rock facility there.

"You gotta listen to the 'bang bang bang,' 24 hours a day. I don't know how you're going to put up with it," said Robert Weller, who lives near the proposed site.

If approved, the facility would be between the Double Horn Estates and Spicewood Trails housing subdivisions. Double Horn Estates has 100 homes, while Spicewood Estates will be made up of 250 homes once construction is complete.

"It's way way way too much activity there to put in between two residential neighborhoods," said R.G Carver, who lives in the Double Horn Estates.

Thursday's meeting was part of TCEQ's public comment period. Neighbors at the meeting say they are afraid not only of the noise, but also the possibility of air pollution from the facility.

"They know there's health hazards with this. There's blasting, there's property damage to these homes, but these people don't care," said Glenn Leisey, who also lives in the Double Horn Estates.

TCEQ is currently gathering the public feedback, while also reviewing the rock crusher facility's policies, before making a decision.

"Those standard permits are designed to be protective of the property line, of human health, and the environment, so there's actually restrictions in the standard permit," said TCEQ's Beryl Thatcher.

The Texas Environmental Protection Coalition is already involved in a lawsuit against TCEQ, which they filed about a year ago for a similar situation. Then, they were trying to prevent the agency from granting a standard permit for a different rock quarry.

Grant Dean is one of the group's leaders, and he says his group is trying to get standard permits outlawed. "The aggregate industry, they force themselves on us, and we have no say in the whole ballgame," Dean said.

Right now, all neighbors can do is wait and see what happens. "If this was a mile away from us, we wouldn't be out here protesting this," Leisey said.

TCEQ will have to come to a decision on the permit within 35 days after the end of the public comment period. The public comment period ends October 19th.

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