TRAVIS COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — City leaders in Manor say they’re not worried about a new industrial plant that’s ramping up development near their city limits, thanks to a boom in residential development.
However, homeowners who live less than a mile from the new facility say they’re moving out — not only worried about the long-term effects living so close to the facility could have on their family.
“We’re also worried about the long-term effects on the home value and the property value in the neighborhood, in general,” explained Robyn Lein, a first-time home buyer.
The Leins moved in to their house in the Bell Farms subdivision in 2015. They wanted to get away from the city to raise their son, Mateo. The Leins say they wish they would have known about plans to build the industrial operation before they bought their home.
“They threw down this plant without basically any notice,” said Rob Lein. “It’s a fear to move somewhere else — find another nice spot and then the next thing you know, there’s an asphalt plant by your house.”
The couple is one of several homeowners in the neighborhood who have complained about the new industrial plant being built at 13811 Old Highway 20. Like their neighbors, the Lein couple says Ergon Asphalt and Emulsions, Inc. didn’t tell them before building their facility. Turns out, they weren’t required to do so. Their homes are not close enough to the perimeter of the site to require prior notification.
The site is located in the city of Austin’s Extra Territorial District, or ETJ. It meets the standard to build and operate near these neighborhoods, as outlined by the city and Travis County. Manor stakeholders have no jurisdictional authority, whatsoever.
KXAN’s investigation revealed the plant and the company behind it are not breaking any rules or laws by moving in and setting up shop.
Ergon Asphalt and Emulsions, Inc. uses hot mix to make a variety of asphalt products. The company has locations across the country. The plant in northeast Travis County will be the company’s ninth listed location in Texas. The plant is in its final phases of development, but county officials say the company has gone into full mode production of asphalt at the site.
Officials with the city of Manor say they’re not worried about the new plant or their local housing market.
“It doesn’t define the city. It’s not Manor. It’s just a facility that’s located near Manor. It’s not a large impact for the city,” said Scott Dunlop, the city’s planning coordinator.
Residential growth and development in Manor has increased exponentially for nearly a decade. The number of residential permits the city has issued annually has soared from 69 in 2007 to 374 in 2016. Housing permits so far in 2017 have exceeded any previous year the city has issued permits — the city’s issued nearly as many the first half of this year as it did all year in 2016.
“There’s more demand than supply in some instances. They’re trying to put lots and build as many sections as they can as fast as they can for these home builders,” added Dunlop, who says the city’s growth projection through 2030 is also expected to climb. “We have multi-family development that’s being proposed around the city in various places, which would bump it up because it’s denser development. Going out to 2030, it could be 44,000 people in the city and around the city.”
Dunlop says the city has a lot more development projects in the works, as well, both residential and commercial — from new parks and trails to street improvements.
Aaron Farmer, the immediate past president for the Austin Board of Realtors, says he sees Manor as a strong area.
“You can get a lot more house for your money in places like Manor. It’s a lot more affordable, the roads are good there now, you got 290 — the freeway going all the way out there, so it makes it an easy commute,” he said.
The Board of Realtors says industrial sites near residential areas can be a double-edged sword.
“They provide jobs to areas, which definitely need housing. On the other hand, sometimes there can be you know, odors or eyesores that might maybe keep the area down a little bit,” continued Farmer, who says it’s usually a case-by-case scenario.
“As a buyer, you just have to go look at the house. Don’t just judge a neighborhood just because it’s a certain distance from an industrial plant. Go and judge it for yourself and see what you think about it. It’s no different than a house that backs up to MoPac, or something like that. You have to go judge it for yourself and see how you can imagine yourself living there in that house.”
For more information about economic development in Manor, visit the city’s webpage here.
If you live in Travis County and have concerns about environmental quality in your area, call the Travis County Environmental Hotline at (512) 854-4400.
To learn how to file a complaint with TCEQ, or check the status of a site as reviewed by the state agency, visit the TCEQ Central Registry Query.