Sherman may not be getting a new concrete recycling plant after all. The city of Sherman denied a permit to build a new concrete recycling plant Monday night amid concerns from the public.
The tight vote ultimately required an executive session to resolve. This comes after the request was narrowly approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission in a four-to-three vote, setting the stage for the council to ultimately decide on the matter.
“Waste concrete and asphalt are generated throughout the region by individuals, private contractors, municipalities, counties and the state,” said Drue Bynum who was representing the applicant. “This is particularly the case in forward-thinking cities who are growth minded such as the city of Sherman.”
The request was made by Big City Crushed Concrete, who have operated a concrete recycling operation in North Texas for nearly three decades. For the past half-decade, the concrete recycler has worked with the city of Sherman to recycle waste materials generated during its street construction and maintenance projects.
Bynum said the existing plant will accept waste road materials free of charge and grind them down into their base components. In turn, this material will then be used in the construction of new roads as an aggregate. This leads to the material, which otherwise would end up in a landfill or illegally dumped, being reused rather than wasted, he said.
“We’ve done this with the city for six years and I daresay you probably did not know that,” Bynum said in May.
The proposed plant would have been built on nearly 20 acres of land located at 1022 Northeast FM 1417. The site would feature a paved driveway that would allow operators to regularly sweep the entrance for dust. The ground material would also be regularly wet down to alleviate any dusting issues, Bynum said.
The site would also feature two retention ponds on site to collect any water runoff that was generated which Bynum said this would be minimal. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality does not require this for the operation, he said.
“Simply stated, Big City is breaking big rocks into small rocks,” he said, noting that the site would operate about 30 days a year.
The request saw significant opposition from the audience with multiple individuals speaking against the request. Residents and nearby property owners cited numerous concerns ranging from the effects on the local waterline that serves the area to traffic impacts and noise pollution.
The most common concerns dealt with the impact of the dust generated from crushing concrete.
“What we are really concerned with is this dust has been proven over and over and over again to contain silica,” Grayson Bible Baptist Church Pastor Roy Webster said. “And, silica is the producer of silicosis and silicosis is a cancerous situation in the body.”
Webster, who presented a petition against the project with over 700 names on it, said he was concerned about what these chemicals might do to the children who attend school daily at the church. Webster acknowledged that the TCEQ has regulations regarding safe levels of the material in the air, but said he wanted to err on the side of caution.
“Don’t let Big City crush the hopes and dreams of our small town children,” he said.
Bynum said the situations that were described by the opposition happen when rules and regulations are not followed. It would make no sense for the operator to let the dust, which is a bind agent, leave the material as that degrades the quality of the aggregate and makes it less useful for construction, he said.
After a brief discussion, Mayor David Plyler moved on with the discussion items on the agenda before returning to take action on each. A motion was made to deny the request, with council members Sandra Melton, Josh Stevenson and Daron Holland voting to deny. Willie Steele voted against the denial, with Pamela Howeth joining him after a pause.
Deputy Mayor Shawn Teamann was absent for Monday’s meeting.
Following Howeth’s vote, members of both sides expressed a desire to ask more questions, or table the request, but there was an outstanding vote at the time. Plyler said he could vote against the denial, resulting in a tie vote, but there were questions on if the mayor could vote outside of a tie.
To answer this question, the council went into executive session with City Attorney Brandon Shelby to check the city charter for an answer. After several minutes, the council reconvened and Plyler announced that the request had been denied in a vote of three-to-two.
Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at MHutchins@HeraldDemocrat.com.