Waxahachie residents protest chemical plant's trucking request

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by CYNTHIA VEGA

WFAA

Posted on January 9, 2012 at 2:38 PM

Updated Monday, Jan 9 at 3:26 PM

Magnablend fire location

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WAXAHACHIE - Nearly 300 Waxahachie neighbors crowded into the Ellis County Courthouse today to protest a request from the chemical plant Magnablend, Inc.

The company has asked the Ellis County Commissioners Court to consider raising the weight limit for trucks traveling Arrowhead Road. The county road leads to Magnablend's potential new home in rural Waxahachie. It's the former home of the Superconducting Super Collider.

The commissioners explained to a packed courtroom of emotional neighbors that they are only considering the motion and making no final decisions today. The crowd was also told the county has limited authority over such decisions. For example, even if commissioners reject the request, Magnablend could still be granted permission at the state level.

Many neighbors who live close to the new proposed site for the chemical plant said they are upset about having Magnablend as a neighbor at all. Kathleen Spillar said she has lived one mile from the site for 70 years and doesn't like the idea of risking the possibility of chemicals getting into the nearby water supply.

Neighbor John Parsons said there is already enough traffic on county road FM 66 without any other extra traffic from Magnablend. He and others worry there could be a great deal of extra trucking given that Magnablend currently hauls chemicals onto their site by rail car.

Brian Hess said neighbors are most opposed to a chemical plant doing business in a rural area not zoned for industries. Hess said neighbors support keeping Magnablend's tax base within city limits, just not at the expense of relocating near farmers and ranchers.

Melissa Chapman, a spokeswoman for Magnablend, said the company does have a contract to purchase the old Superconductor Super Collider property, which is outside city limits, but the company wants to work to reassure neighbors who have concerns.

Just three months ago, a massive explosion broke out at Magnablend's current location within city limits. The fire sent flames and black smoke into the sky for hours. The Texas Commission of Environmental Quality is still investigating and is due to release its report sometime in April.

In the meantime, the Ellis County Commissioners are looking to hold a public hearing on Magnablend's request to increase weight limits for trucks on county road FM 66. The hearing will be January 23 at the Ellis County Courthouse.

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