Grayson County commissioners lent an ear Tuesday to a man who is not happy about the plans for a cement plant be built near his home in Van Alstyne.
“We certainly share his concerns about safety in that particular location,” Grayson County Commissioner Jeff Whitmire said before hearing from Mike Mitchell about the plant proposed for 1360 Willie Vester Road in Van Alstyne.
“We, as a court, recognize the need for concrete batch plants in a growing community,” Whitmire continued. He said the issue isn’t the plant itself but the location.
He said the road, as currently designed, will likely be unsafe for the kind of traffic it will see if the plant is built.
Marc Mahoney, who owns Lucky’s Ready Mix, LLC and plans to open the plant on Willie Vester, said in a phone interview that if the road is safe for school buses, it should be safe for his trucks.
Mahoney, who was not present at the meeting Tuesday, said he didn’t know that the commissioners would be discussing the planned plant. He said he looks forward to meeting with Whitmire and discussing what can be done about the roads to make them safe for everyone. He also said he doesn’t anticipate a problem with the application being approved. He said they already meet all of TCEQ’s criteria. Mahoney said if they didn’t, he wouldn’t have paid the approximately $30,000 it costs to apply for the permits.
Mitchell told commissioners the location that the company wants to use for their plant in Grayson County will sit near a dozen private residences. He said many of those people farm their land and crops being grown there include wheat, corn, milo and maze. He said a number of the residents have children and some the residents have breathing troubles. He said the property that the plant wants to use was previously used to graze cattle.
Mahoney said, in a phone conversation, no one lives close enough to the plant, by TCEQ regulations, to complain about the plant. He said one must live within a quarter mile of one of the silos to be able to file a complaint.
“The TCEQ application indicates that the plan is for two silos with a combined capability of 300 cubic yards of concrete per hour. That equates to 30 trucks per hour if they loaded it to legal weight limits of 80,000 pounds,” Mitchell said. He said the trucks also have to return to the site so there would be 60 trucks an hour on the road and that doesn’t include the trucks that will be used to bring in materials that will be used in the production of the concrete.
Mahoney said they won’t be running anywhere near that number of trucks. He said he wouldn’t estimate that they would have more than 20 trucks a day coming and going from the plant and that includes those carrying in raw materials.
The problem with all of those trucks, Mitchell said, is the fact that the road is not wide enough or strong enough to handle all of that traffic plus the traffic from the rest of the people who live along the road and in that area.
Mahoney acknowledged that the road does have some 90-decree turns that will make it a tight fit for the traffic, but he said he looks forward to talking with the county about how that can be corrected. He said he has worked with counties in the past to make sure that the roads near his previous plants were kept safe for everyone using them.
“We want to be good neighbors and we are going to do what we can to be good neighbors,” Mahoney said.
Concerns about school buses
The concerns of the would-be neighbors of the plant, Mitchell said, go beyond emissions. They are concerned about water ways that might be impacted by the plant. He said Willie Vester connects State Highway 3133 and State Highway 121. It has two double blind 90-degree turns along with one open 90-degree turn. He said one of the roads leading away from the plant, Ballard Road, has one 90-degree turn and three blind hills. He said school buses use the road and there will not be enough space on the road for both the large trucks for the plant and the school buses. For instance, he said, the road is at its largest point 16 feet wide. He said a concrete truck is ten feet wide as is a dump truck. Doing the math, he said, proves that there is no way for both a concrete truck and a school bus on the road at one time. He said he is concerned about wrecks that could occur because the road is not big enough to support that kind of traffic.
Mahoney said the company has taken the school buses into consideration. He said they won’t run trucks down Willy Vester at the times that the school buses will be on the road. They will use Cook Road instead.
He said he looks forward to talking to Whitmire, probably within the next day or so, and would like to go to the site and discuss what will be needed. He said he has to go out to the property because it looks like someone has moved his signs.
Concrete versus cement plant
“I get road safety issue,” Grayson County Judge Bill Magers said at the meeting. However, he said, if those issues are resolved, the county will likely support the concrete plant because they are a part of the growth that is headed for Grayson County. He stressed that the county will always be watching out for the safety of its residents and county leaders understand no one wants a concrete plant in their backyard. However, Magers said, there are trade-offs for growth.
Mahoney said the problem is that people hear a plant is coming and they get upset. First of all, he said, this isn’t going to be a concrete plant. It will be a cement plant. The two, he said, are different. A cement plant is much smaller, he said, and causes much less pollution.
He said it is very early in the process right now, and he wants people to understand what is and what is not coming. Once the plant is built and operating, he said, neighbors will wonder what they were worried about. He said the plant expects to employ between 25 and 30 people and pay salaries that range from $50,000 a year to $100,000 a year.
“And there will be lots of sales tax,” he said. “But it should not effect the property values of the property around it.”
He said the plant won’t even be built near the road. It will be built at the very back of the property. “There is a hill there that will hide it all,” he said.
Mahoney said he doesn’t mind meeting people out at the property to go over things wilt them.
He said anyone who wants to discuss the project with him his invited to call him at 817-829-1912.