A group of neighbors in Garland said they are planning to speak in opposition of an already approved concrete batch plant at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
The plant would be located on the former Hypermart site on South Garland Avenue.
April 7, the Garland City Council voted to approve plans for a temporary off-site construction campus for the I-635 East project to reconstruct and widen 635 between US-75 and I-30.
The campus will include field offices for construction staff, storage of materials and supplies including tool trailers and trucks and a concrete batch plant for five years.
Neighbors said they didn’t feel they had enough time to rally the community before the council voted in favor of the batch plant plans.
“We heard of it through a Nextdoor post for the neighborhood and we mobilized immediately, but it was just too little too late,” said Garland resident Don Phillips.
Phillips, who is part of a grassroots group called Clean Up Garland, said he opposes the plant because he’s concerned about the environmental impact of another industrial operation in Garland.
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The city said it required rezoning request notification letters go out to property owners within 400 feet of the site, doubling the state’s requirement of 200 feet.
That added up to 64 households.
“I think they have a duty to expand past the 400 feet because we’re not talking about what they have to do and don’t have to do,” said Phillips. “We’re just talking about ethics and morals. Let the people know what’s coming.”
Phillips said he’s concerned the letters weren’t translated to Spanish – pointing to a number of neighbors who speak English as a second language.
The city said the letter summarized the proposed project in English, with a note in Spanish directing people to call a bilingual city staff member for details.
Councilman Rich Aubin, who’s district includes the former Hypermart site, held a public meeting in March.
He said he’s open to policy discussions in the future addressing how the city can better notify communities of a zoning change request, but does not see the council overturning its approval for the batch plant.
“That applicant has now been granted a bundle of rights that the government can’t just take away,” said Aubin.
Aubin said he voted in favor of the project, noting an expanded I-635 with more access to the former Hypermart site would improve redevelopment prospects for the 24-acre property.
Hypermart opened in the late 80s as a mega-shopping destination but later fell into decay. The city bought the property in 2017 and had it demolished in 2018.
Aubin noted the challenges in developing the site, saying he ran for city council after opposing plans to turn the property into a storage warehouse.
“It was not something that was going to develop into what we had hoped for without putting a lot more of the city’s money in it and putting that money at risk - which is not something we were willing to do,” Aubin explained.
“If we can accelerate the development of 635 through Garland and get the traffic going through there, then we can start looking at developing that into something that would be great for the city,” explained Aubin.
“I just want to make sure we have a good plan in place if there isn’t a way to get this out of our community,” said Garland resident Melissa Massey.
Massey, a teacher, said the council approved the plant at the height of pandemic concerns in early April. She says she wants the council to know her concerns now and push for a change inhow residents are formally notified about zoning issues in the future.
“While the state minimum says 200 feet, we might want to target a mile, really get those best practices in place," said Massey.
“We’re not here to attack anybody, we just want what’s best for our community,” Massey added.
In an email to NBC 5, the contractors for the I-635 East project wrote, “The batch plant for Pegasus Link Constructors (PLC) is a temporary plant that will produce concrete for the 635 East Project. PLC followed all required guidelines to obtain a permit with the City of Garland, including the public process involved in meeting the Planning and Community Development requirements; PLC also ensured all requirements were in compliance with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).”