54ºF

Acres Homes residents concerned about concrete company's expansion plans

HOUSTON – Acres Homes residents are doing what they can to make sure a concrete company isn't allowed to expand in their north Houston neighborhood.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality mailed a letter to residents in May informing them Soto Ready Mix's batch plant meets the requirements to be built at 3411 Desoto Street.

TCEQ also said construction of the plant has not been authorized.  An air quality permit application remains pending.

Neighbors hope the application is not approved.

What can residents do?

The Commission said before taking any further action, it must consider all contested case hearing requests or requests for reconsideration.

As of March, there were more than 50 hearing requests.

The state representative of the area is on the residents' side.

Rep. Jarvis Johnson, district 139, told KPRC2 he is "in staunch opposition of this proposed batch plant" and will continue to work to stop it from operating.

Residents can request a hearing by clicking here.

When will the hearings be heard?

TCEQ said everyone who requested a contested case hearing would be reviewed during an upcoming 30-day hearing.

"This decision will be considered by the commissioners at a regularly scheduled public meeting before any action is taken on this application unless all requests for contested case hearing or reconsideration have been withdrawn before that meeting," the TCEQ letter said.

An initial permit application was submitted in March 2018. The TCEQ struck it down a month later after determining "that the 100-foot setback requirement from the central baghouse stack exhaust to the nearest property line was not met."

Soto Ready Mix submitted a second application in October 2018, which is the one being considered now.

 

Second Soto Ready Mix Application (PDF)
Second Soto Ready Mix Application (Text)

'It just popped up overnight': What residents are saying

While plans for the cement batch plant have not been approved, Soto Ready Mix operates a lot at 3411 Desoto, at the intersection of T.C. Jester. Cement trucks come and go, according to neighbors. Two RVs were parked on the lot and men appeared to be working on the lot when KPRC2 arrived Wednesday.

Neighbors said the company moved in a year ago, but Soto Ready Mix's owner told KPRC2 the lot is merely a storage facility. KPRC2 spoke to Armando Soto by phone, through a translator. Neighbors said the claim that Soto Ready Mix only uses the lot for storage is false.

"Four o'clock in the morning we wake up, we don't know what's going on," said David Williams, who lives next door. "Going and coming, going and coming, seven days a week."

Cement trucks, dump trucks and dirt mounds can be seen from Williams' window. He says it's a sore sight and the company's plans to build a cement batch plant, expanding its presence in the neighborhood, is not good for the area.

"It's gotten to be nerve-wracking by living here," Williams said. "They put the fence in to hide what was going on."

Williams says the company's plans pose concern for his grandson, Cameron.

"It's dusty out there. We can't let him go in the backyard because he has asthma," Williams said.

Other neighbors feel the same way.

"Dust be flying everywhere. Our homes, our flowers, our pets (are affected)," Irene Mathis said.

"We do understand that people have to make a living. It has nothing that has to do with that. It's the safety ... the safety and concern of our health," said Gwendolyn Jones-Fields.

What Soto Ready Mix is saying

Armando Soto, the company's owner, said the plant will be safe, according to state standards, if approved.

He said the reason residents see so much truck traffic is because the lot is acting as a storage site.

What the city is saying

The city is interested about what's going on at the site and has cited Soto Ready Mix six times in the past. A visit to the site Wednesday by building inspectors from the Department of Public Works resulted in a seventh citation being issued.

There have been six previous citations at the location, according to the city of Houston:

  • A permit is required for a fence over 8 feet
  • A permit is required for an RV on a property connected to utilities and currently occupied
  • No permit to install a modular building
  • No permit to build a canopy
  • No permit to house horse stables
  • 3411 Desoto does not have a Certificate of Occupancy
  • Building plans to construct a modular building were rejected Wednesday, the city confirmed. A follow-up is scheduled for Thursday.