Houston, TX – In a stunning reversal of plans, a concrete batch plant operator has withdrawn its application for a permit to operate next to homes and across the street from Highland Park and Community Center, a vital community gathering space and park in Acres Homes, a historic community of color in Northwest Houston.
Hundreds of community members were engaged against the permit over the past two years, receiving strong support from state, county, and local elected officials and representatives, many of whom advocated against the intentional siting of industrial facilities in low-income communities and communities of color – a growing threat to the health and wellbeing of many Houston-area communities.
“I’m really happy they decided to put our health in consideration,” shared lifelong Acres Homes resident and Lone Star Legal Aid client, Mrs. Simpson. Experiencing coughing symptoms that began soon after the facility moved into her neighborhood, Mrs. Simpson noted, “It would have had a really bad effect – not only on our health, but our livelihoods as well.”
One day before a contested case hearing was scheduled to take place at the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) in Houston on January 23, the company, Soto Ready Mix (Soto), submitted a request to remand its permit application to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ)’s Executive Director for immediate withdrawal.
“This is a huge victory for the Acres Homes community,” shared LSLA Environmental Attorney, Colin Cox. “Not only is Soto abandoning its reckless plan to build a concrete plant here, but it has also committed to relocating all of its commercial operations out of the Acres Homes neighborhood. This result was only possible through the sustained effort of dozens of community members and public servants over the past two years.” Cox represented residents in their fight against the permit, while also providing educational presentations to community members on how to engage in the public participation process through the TCEQ.
In a January 23 press conference announcing the company’s withdrawal of permit, Representative Jarvis Johnson noted the significance of the victory. “This is a win, not only for community members in Acres Homes, but for the City of Houston, for Harris County, and for the State of Texas.”
Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves the millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, like those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at www.lonestarlegal.org.
Media contact: Clarissa Ayala, firstname.lastname@example.org