MINEOLA, Texas (KLTV) - A popular East Texas attraction is facing down the possibility of an industrial business moving in next door, causing residents of the area to oppose its presence.
The Mineola Nature Preserve, which draws thousands of visitors to Wood County each year, is situated on 2,911 acres of land, and is home to East Texas species of animals that can fly, walk, crawl, and slither, and home to more than 193 species of birds, numerous wildlife, buffalo, longhorn cattle, and a pristine wetlands environment.
Now, a group of citizens has made it their mission to save the Preserve from industrial development nearby.
Bell Concrete Inc. has a requested an air quality permit to build a concrete plant near the Mineola Nature Preserve.
Some Mineola residents fear the plant will be harmful to the nature preserve so they have started a campaign called Preserve Mineola. They aren’t against the concrete plant itself; they say they just feel that it could be put in a better place, away from the preserve.
“The location of where it is going to be in this pristine area is just abstract to what it was originally designed for,” said Joe Moore, who is a member of Preserve Mineola.
The campaign looks to collect enough comments before April 4 so they can request a public meeting with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. TCEQ determines whether the concrete plant receives the air quality permit which would allow the plant to be built. The groups feels that TCEQ should hear their concerns before making any decision.
“By getting our public comments in on the permit application, it basically signifies to the TCEQ that we would like our voices heard that we need to have a public meeting to talk about this very important issue,” said Mary Williams.
Although the nature preserve is owned by Mineola, the neighboring land on which the plant will be potentially located is in Wood County jurisdiction and is privately owned. Several city leaders plan to write letters voicing their concerns about the plant’s location.
If the plant gets approval from the TCEQ, it will be operational by June 2021. That timeline is concerning for Martha McHenry who owns Grand Oaks Winery which neighbors the nature preserve. She is worried that the concrete plant will impact how her grapes grow.
“So I am very concerned as a wine grape grower, as a vineyard owner, as a wine maker that all of these things are going to be impacted by particulate matter in the air that would drift to water sources which is our main source of water which is an on site pond,” said McHenry.
KLTV reached out to Bell Concrete Inc. regarding several citizens’ concerns about the plant’s potential location and they said they would adhere to the laws of the State of Texas, and they have no further comment.
To leave a public comment about the plant for Preserve Mineola click here.