Write a comment
By Tony Farkas
COLDSPRING — San Jacinto County Commissioners approved an ordinance that limits the area of the county that could be used for solid waste disposal.
The ordinance did designate an area of just over 867 acres in the southwest part of the county, near the Montgomery County line, where disposal will be permitted. However, a request to add recently acquired land to the ordinance was not acted upon.
Peach Creek LLC had filed a permit application with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality in 2019, starting a process of investigation and public meetings.
Area landowners have been petitioning the state, as well as the Commissioners Court, to ban the landfill, stating it would be a detriment to the health and welfare of the residents. Additionally, there was concern about the landfill’s proximity to Sam Houston National Forest.
One of the chief concerns was the route trash trucks would take to access the landfill — Jayhawker and Rajak roads — which is a residential area. Additionally, the roads were not rated for heavy loads.
Dana Moody chastised the commissioners, saying that the issue first came up in 2019, and the fact that the ordinance coming to a vote just now is disheartening.
“You had many opportunities to vote on this, but the delay has given them the time to purchase the land,” she said. “You guys knew about the health and safety concerns then; I gave you all the documentation. I wanted you to understand what a landfill means.”
Moody said people are walking away from the area because of all the problems, which includes high crime and illegal dumping of both trash and animals.
Carson Combs said he was excited to read about the proposed legislation to limit landfills but said that by including the portion where it is allowed “sold my little portion of the county down the river.
“In your ordinance, you said it’s not healthy, not good for property values, but you did not speak up about it when a firm from Mississippi came in and lined your pockets,” Combs said. “It’s time to stop playing politics with Precinct 3 and take out the clause that makes out portion the exception.”
Commissioner David Brandon said that when the company filed its application, the county had no policy in place.
He also said that the ordinance does not grant permission to create a landfill, because that is up to the TCEQ.
“We’ve done everything the county can do under the rules,” he said.
County Judge Fritz Faulkner said that once a permit has been filed, the county can pass all the ordinances it wants, but the company filing the permit will not be bound by them. Additionally, the county cannot pass an ordinance prohibiting landfills completely, it can only designate areas where landfills cannot be built.
Moody said that the application has not been approved, and that the ordinance should offer protection should the permit fall through. Additionally, she said the county had plenty of time to get an ordinance in place.
The county took no action on an amendment request to the ordinance.
Ray Sullivan, who represents Peach Creek’s efforts to build the landfill, said the company had requested the county add 189 acres to the area designated for solid waste disposal because additional land had been acquired.
The purpose was to change the route that disposal trucks would take to keep from using streets in residential areas, and instead route traffic to Fostoria Tram.
However, Faulkner said that in order to add acreage to the ordinance, it would have to be scrapped, rewritten, and republished.
The text of the ordinance can be found on the County website at https://www.co.san-jacinto.tx.us/upload/page/6926/20230801085315.pdf.
In a separate matter, Constable Sam Houston, along with volunteers, informed the county that the newly constructed animal control center had some deficiencies that came to light once the shelter became operational.
Most notably, the electrical service was inadequate. Volunteers Gilbert and April Plunkett said that since there was no air conditioning, the fans being used were too much for the service to handle. Also, the drainage of the structure was inadequate, with water pooling when the floors are sprayed.
Faulkner directed the county to look into the issues.
In other business, the court:
•approved the revision of a plat for Waterwood to combine lots;
•declared a police vehicle and a hydraulic excavator as surplus to be sold at auction;
•approved the purchase of a compactor, a recycling container and a vertical baler at a cost 40,188.11, which will be paid out of the ARPA funds;
•approved bond renewals for Vicki Shelly and Sherry Shepherd;
•approved the use of the storm shelter on Sept. 21 for a fundraiser for the Coldspring Intermediate School PTO;
•approved extending an agreement with Tyler Technologies for software services;
•approved the fee structure for the Sheriff’s Office and county constables; and
•denied a variance for a lot split from Live Water Farms over environmental concerns.