‘It ought to stay agriculture’ I Medina County residents say concrete batch plant poses proposed safety and environmental risks

Brandon Stein is not only concerned about his family’s wellbeing, he’s worried about fellow neighbors who could be impacted by the close-proximity concrete plant.

RIO MEDINA, Texas — Larry Stein enjoys the quiet lifestyle of living in Rio Medina while surrounded by the soundtrack of nature and farmland. But his tranquil sanctuary could be disrupted if a concrete batch plant begins operations next door.

“I’ve lived here my whole life. It’s very peaceful,” Stein said. “You can hear the mocking birds so clearly you think, will that bird every stop chirping?”

Now the Stein family alongside several other residents are pushing back against the proposed project from becoming a reality.

The family farm goes back a nearly hundred years. Stein grows a variety of crops and he specializes in the harvesting of pecans on land that sits on a floodplain near the Medina River.

He’s concerned about a concrete plant’s longterm impact of particulate matter impacting his supplemental livelihood through crop production.

“We think this is an agricultural community, we think it ought to stay agriculture. We think the land is too valuable to cover it up with a plant like that,” Stein said. “All the particulate matter, not only from an air quality standpoint but from a production standpoint where you coat the leaves with that dust, hinder the photosynthetic capacity.”

Larry’s son, Brandon Stein, expressed concern for the health and safety of his family, friends and neighbors. He’s been leading the effort to heighten awareness about the concrete batch plant through social media and a change.org petition which has resulted in more than 600 signatures.

“Exposure to even small amounts of this particulate matter can cause health issues up to and including lung cancer,” Stein said. “As a doctor, it’s not right for someone to put somebody’s health in jeopardy for monetary gain.”

Jarco ReadyMix LLC applied to register a permanent concrete batch plant through the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) on Feb. 7, 2022.

A TCEQ spokesman explained the permit process for the proposed project and revealed the results of the air pollution study.

“The protectiveness review determined potential impacts to human health and welfare or the environment by comparing emissions allowed by the standard permit to appropriate state and federal standards and guidelines. These standards and guidelines include the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and TCEQ rules,” the spokesman said in an emailed statement.

“The Executive Director has determined that the emissions authorized by the standard permit are protective of both human health and the environment,” the statement noted.

Beyond air quality concerns, the Stein family noted there are also worries regarding noise and light pollution.

Brandon says the proposed plant’s close proximity to homes and future schools poses potential environmental and logistical challenges, especially when it comes to road access.

A public meeting hosted by TCEQ will provide the public an opportunity to voice their concerns.

Brandon’s stressed he’s determined to prolong and ultimately stop the installation of the concrete batch plant.

“We’re not opposed to all the progress coming out toward us, it’s inevitable at this point. But there’s a better spot for this to go,” he said.

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