Ellis County Commissioners catch heat from chemical plant foes




Posted on January 9, 2012 at 7:58 PM

Magnablend fire location

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WAXAHACHIE - The owner of that plant that exploded three months ago in Waxahachie wants to expand his operation out to the countryside. But new and vocal opposition is amassing and now, Ellis County Commissioners are getting an earful.

Scott Pendery is not a popular person since his chemical plant blew up Oct. 3. He's even less popular among Ellis County residents west of Waxahachie, since announcing a plan to expand operations near them. Magnablend would expand in the defunct federal Super Collider site, where Pendery wants to resume mixing chemicals for the fracking industry.

More than 100 upset residents packed the Ellis County Commissioners courtroom Monday after learning of a proposal to lift weight restrictions and allow heavy chemical trucks to travel the county roads leading up to the plant.

"This is the kind of thing that affects people's lives and their health,” said landowner Amy Hedtke. “We've still got people sick from the odors of this stuff."

Several of the residents were not only imploring Commissioners to reject the request, but threatening to toss them from office if they side with Magnablend.

"[I]f I continue to have that perception, I can assure you, I will be advocating your opposition in any future elections,” said landowner Paula Smith, as the audience erupted in applause.

After the meeting, Magnablend's owner patiently listened to landowner complaints but he is clearly planning to follow through with his efforts to purchase and convert the property into a large chemical blending plant.

"We will listen to the residents, we are going to address all those concerns,” Pendery said. “Unfortunately I don't know that I can make everybody happy."

A formal hearing on raising the weight restrictions is scheduled for Jan. 23. But even if Ellis County Commissioners side with landowners, Magnablend’s trucks can get weight restrictions lifted by seeking an exemption from the state.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com