HOUSTON – Residents in a northeast Harris County neighborhood are hoping to block a proposed concrete batch plant that would sit in their back yards.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said the La Porte-based business, Avant-Garde Construction Company, applied to register a permanent concrete batch plant at 10945 Eastex Freeway on Dec. 17, 2021.
The application is currently under technical review, the agency said.
Residents along Nuggent Street had wondered for years what would happen to the once tree-filled lot that backed up to their homes.
“It was owned by the dealership across the freeway. They had it on sale for forever. At first, they told us it was going to be a junkyard, then a pipe yard,” said Jaime Sosa, whose parents have lived in the neighborhood for 53 years.
The lot was eventually cleared, and now the for sale signs have been replaced by signs alerting neighbors of an application for an air quality permit with TCEQ.
Sosa is worried about the impact the plant could have.
“It’s gonna affect the environment, affect the people. We actually live here,” he said.
Dust clouds, noise and heavy trucks tearing up local streets are among the common complaints from residents who live near concrete plants in the Houston area.
State Representative Armando Walle has requested TCEQ hold a public hearing on the project, which also borders the brand new $7 million James Driver Park.
“We’re not going to take this lying down. My community really, really is vehemently opposed,” Walle said.
In a Feb. 14 letter to TCEQ opposing the permit application, Air Alliance Houston pointed out the Aldine area already has eight concrete batch plants.
“TCEQ passes these permits out like candy. They do not really take into account all of the cumulative health impacts in the area,” said Leticia Gutierrez, director of government relations for Air Alliance Houston.
Meliton Gomez, owner and president of Avant-Garde Construction Company, sent KPRC 2 News the following statement:
“Avant-Garde Construction Co. (AGC Redi-mix) is a small family business that performs a wide range of projects from concrete work, commercial buildings to custom homes, where we pride ourselves in doing good work with minimal impact on our neighbors. …. Meliton, the president, has worked in the Petro-chemical industry for 29 years in roles ranging from Chemical R&D research, Industrial Operations Supervisor to major Petro-chemical construction projects for various companies.
Over the years, I have personally seen these large Perto-chemical industrial facilities transform into a culture where the company and employees care about safety, the environment, and their compliance with environmental agencies. I have seen the impact TNRCC/TCEQ , EPA, OSHA, has had on our industry. The adaptation of new improved evolving technologies to minimize and mitigate impacts on the environment and protect its people and communities. I have seen our industry adopt a culture of environmental responsibility and safety.
This is our company mindset, my belief in a culture of safety for us and our neighbors, good steward and neighbor.
We are a small family business. We will oversee the plant’s daily operations: safety, logistics, purchasing, operations, compliance.
Responsible business owners are the key to a successful stewardship between industry and its communities.
- Our Responsibility, As plant owners will include an Operations and Employee training manual that defines proactive monitoring of our equipment to ensure proper operation especially more critical dust suppression systems like our dust collectors. 99.9% Efficient in removing dust.
Why on this site? Logistically, transporting concrete is becoming more challenging, increasing traffic throughout the city. Concrete has a mixture shelf life of 90min, the shorter transport distance, the more environmentally friendly, less admixtures need to be added for transport.
- Our commercial property at 10945 Eastex Fwy is on one of the busiest Highways in the nation. Our plant will be located 100 feet from the frontage road.
- High fence to aid in noise suppression and dust control.
- Minimal lighting, enough for the safety of our employees and for visual emissions monitoring in low light conditions.
- We are currently looking for a home in the area to purchase so we can live close to minimize our commute to work.”
TCEQ said the public comment period on the project has been open since Jan. 19 and will continue until the end of the public hearing. No date has been set for that meeting.