I want to tell you about a citizens meeting I attended on Saturday at Bruce Road and Applewhite Road. This is a concerned citizens group about a Frack Sand Mining Company considering opening up in this area of north Atascosa County. I was first approached about six months ago by a representative (Martin Allday from Houston) from this unnamed company. He said they were considering coming to Atascosa County and bringing up to 200 jobs and a $50M investment. I did ask where they were looking and I was given a vague answer. I asked if they were looking on SH16 where there were other similar operations and was told it was an area where they were looking. We set a meeting on January 4th at 10am to meet with the company officials. Commissioner Gillespie and I were there as well as the Preferred Sand COO, TJ Doyle and the Vice President of Finance and Business Operations, Matthew Chiappa. I did ask at that meeting about location again and they said a location at Bruce Road. I was surprised and again asked why they did not consider SH16 because the access to a major state highway for transportation would be so much better. This led to a conversation about the county roads of Applewhite and Bruce. I dont know where the number came from but they began talking about a cost of $4M to upgrade the roads. I told them we were not spending money on those roads for 18-wheeler access. They asked if they spent 4M on the county roads would that cause us to be favorable toward a tax abatement? I told them we would consider the possibility. We discussed their request for consideration of a tax abatement for their business. I told them we did not have a policy established for such consideration yet but I was working on the process. We closed the meeting and I told them we were a business friendly county and were the best county in the area for any business to locate. Please remember, this is all before I saw the site for myself.
I am not real familiar with the area since I was raised on a farm in south county. Commissioner Gillespie took me for a drive out to the area, and when I saw the location I was stunned. This is a very pretty area bordered by neat, but narrow dirt county roads. The roads cannot handle 18 wheeler traffic. I went to Austin to meet with our state representative to see what we could do. He facilitated a meeting with TXDOT to start my efforts to explore setting limits on restricting what can run on our roads. We do have some options and I will be working on that. Unfortunately, there is no county policy at this time. I will be researching traffic nuisance ordinance possibilities for the county. We will be pressing TCEQ to monitor the air quality situation closely. Also, I am sure a tax abatement is off the table at this time.
After I attended the meeting I mentioned on Saturday, I am very sympathetic to the 100 or so folks who showed up. They are our citizens and our neighbors. Their quality of life could change in a big way. Everyone needs to be aware that a rural county has no permit authority or zoning authority. Any business that complies with state and federal guidelines can open without approval from the county. I do intend to use the office of the county judge in every way I can to assist these fine people with maintaining their quality of life.
Thank you for listening.
We want you to be proud of your county government.