Some East Fort Worth families are upset after learning that a controversial proposal to build a concrete recycling plant near their neighborhoods may be coming back.
Last year, neighbors banded together to get the project shut down, and they prevailed. But the company isn't giving up just yet.
The city's zoning commission rejected last year's plan to build the plant on some 400 acres in an area where a lot of revitalization work has taken place on East 1st Street near the Trinity River. Now the developer has filed a permit with the state – the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) – that some people see as a backdoor approach.
Dallas businessman Wallace Hall requested permission to turn his land from commercial and multifamily uses to heavy industrial.
Judy Taylor and Fred Fernandez, presidents of the Handley and White Lake Hills neighborhood associations, respectively, helped gather thousands of petitions and hundreds of phone calls to the city that led to the zoning commission denying last year's request.
"We did feel that we had fought the good fight," Taylor said.
But that denial only lasted for one year and it expires this week. Now that Hall is asking the state for an air quality permit on the same land, neighbors are bracing for another fight.
They're worried about heavy traffic, noise and especially air quality.
"It might affect our citizens, the health of our children, families and the future of this east side for generations to come," Fernandez said.
Nearby Nolan Catholic High School has spoken out against the proposal, and folks who love where their Fort Worth is headed are promising to be the sand in the gears of big "concrete" business.
"Let's do something that's positive for the east side," Fernandez said. "Let's protect it, let's stand together."
Hall did not return NBC 5's call for comment on Monday. But last year, project managers said they planned to set the plant back 1,000 feet from the road and 3,000 feet from the nearest home. They also vowed to work with the state to monitor air quality closely.
Even if the TCEQ does grant an air quality permit, the city will still need to approve the zoning change to heavy industrial. That process has not yet begun.