Martin Marietta Texas quarry plan troubles neighbours

Martin Marietta has begun work on a quarry in Kerr County, Texas but local residents are uneasy.

Martin Marietta quarries limestone, sand and gravel nearby but has begun digging at a new location on 194 acres off Texas 27 despite concerns expressed by local elected leaders and protests by nearby residents at a public meeting last week.

The abundance of high-quality gravel and sand beside the Guadalupe River in eastern Kerr County is apparent from the numerous quarries that have operated there over past decades. Several current and former dig sites between Comfort and Kerrville were highlighted at a town hall meeting Wednesday on the newest one.

Martin Marietta officials assured the crowd of roughly 250 people at a meeting last week  that they’re responsible corporate citizens and provide materials that are critical to building roads, homes and more.

A decorative fence already in place at the site will be supplemented with berms and vegetative barriers to improve its appearance, company representatives said, and dust will be kept down with sprayed water (80 percent of which will be recycled).

“We want to work with the community and the surrounding neighborhoods for a win-win situation,” Chance Allen, a Martin Marietta vice president, said Friday.

Kerrville officials entered the fray January 12 by initiating annexation of the Martin Marietta parcel, which could put it under municipal zoning authority.

Mayor Jack Pratt, who led that initiative, told the Wednesday audience that the city will do everything it can to protect property values in what he described as a critical economic development corridor. However, Pratt added, “I can’t promise you results.”

That stretch of Texas 27 also features Kerrville Municipal Airport, home to Mooney Aircraft, as well as oil field supply company Fox Tank. The James Avery company is building a jewelry plant there.

County Commissioner Tom Moser said the meeting met its objective of providing the public with facts about the quarry, the permitting process and related issues.  “There were too many rumors floating around,” said Moser, who took heat later from constituents for not aggressively opposing Martin Marietta’s plan.

County commissioners passed a resolution January 11 that expressed concerns about the detrimental effects of quarries and asked state legislators to pass laws to protect watersheds threatened by them.

“We understand how to protect the Guadalupe River,” Allen assured the town hall crowd.

The company doesn’t want its site annexed, Allen said Friday, declining to say what recourse it has if the city follows through.

Several speakers during the Kerrville City Council’s January 12 discussion suggested that it’s too late to prevent the quarry because the site’s use as such would be grandfathered by the time annexation is completed in April.

Digging has already commenced there, Allen confirmed Friday. “We are mining the property and separating materials as part of the operation, and we also are in the process of constructing the facility,” he said.

Its existing quarry nearby, where the company operates a rock crusher, will remain active for now.

However, under an agreement finalized just before the town hall meeting, the company agreed to let the Upper Guadalupe River Authority investigate the feasibility of creating a reservoir out of the 100-acre bedrock quarry there.

San Antonia Express

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