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Waller County Landfill Controversy Brings Out Hundreds At Hearing

Citizen groups are challenging company’s permit application with TCEQ.

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Members of the State Office of Administrative Hearings hear testimony related to the proposed Pintail Landfill from interest groups in Hempstead.

There was no doubt about the position of the vast majority of those attending the hearing at Hempstead High School when County Commissioner John Amsler took the microphone.

“If you came here today because you vehemently oppose the placement of this landfill in Precinct 1 of Waller County, would you please stand up?” Amsler said.

At that moment, it was hard to spot anyone still sitting.

The hearing is part of a challenge to the permit application of developer Green Group Holdings, which wants to build a 250-acre landfill near Hempstead.

The hearing will help determine the parties who will be allowed to formally challenge the Pintail Landfill before the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The company needs a permit from the TCEQ to operate.

Hempstead is a town of roughly 6,000, about 50 miles northwest of Houston.

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Opponents of the proposed landfill stand up during the hearing at Hempstead High School.

Mayor Michael Wolfe said having a landfill just outside the town will impede economic development, which is why the city is trying to stop the project.

“If you were an investor and you were looking at investing in the city and if you felt that there was not going to be a good return on your investment, you probably would not locate in the city,” Wolfe said, “especially like Hempstead where a landfill would be less than, well, probably within a mile and a half of downtown Hempstead.”

Wolfe also said he would like to get more facts on the environmental impacts.

Stacy Williams is a member of the Organization for the Environmental Health of Hempstead and lives a mile and a half from the site. She said she is concerned.

“The pollution, the smell, the litter, kind of a little bit of everything – ruining the groundwater,” she said. “It’s not going to be good for the environment.”

Brent Ryan is an attorney representing Pintail Landfill. He downplayed the strong opposition to the company’s plans.

“There’s a group of people who live near the proposed facility who are opposed to it, who are very good organizers,” he said. “They’ve done a good job of getting people interested in their opposition, and that’s the result that you see here today.”

Ryan said the project meets or exceeds state regulations, which should ensure that there will be no adverse effects on the community.

He also said the company will build an industrial park next to the landfill, which should stimulate economic development.

“We’re working with Waller County. We’ll be working with them on the development of that industrial park,” Ryan said. “We’ve certainly offered to work with the city of Hempstead and the local community to the extent that what people are interested in is economic development, that is certainly a part of what we plan to do here.”

Another hearing will take place on Sep. 4.

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Hempstead is a town of about 6,000 people 50 miles northwest of Houston in Waller County.

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Florian Martin

Business Reporter

Florian Martin is currently the News 88.7 business reporter. Florian’s stories can frequently be heard on other public radio stations throughout Texas and on NPR nationwide. Some of them have earned him awards from Texas AP Broadcasters, the Houston Press Club, National Association of Real Estate Editors, and Public Radio...

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