Monday, July 11, 2016

EAST FORT WORTH...NOT JUST DUST IN THE WIND


Photo of Concrete Recycling Operation off Precinct Line and Norwood 


Got dust in your houses, cars, lungs?                                                                                                        

Do you know what's in that dust?

We used to have just plain old dirt dust from all the truck traffic and heavy equipment being used in the mining operations off Precinct Line, Norwood, and Trinity Blvd, but now we have silica dust.

Why do we have silica dust?

Because now we have 2 UNAUTHORIZED concrete recycling operations near our homes. No State-required air quality permits.  No City-required zoning.  No public hearings.  The developer just did it!

Remember the recent battle between the developer and the White Lake Hills neighborhoods?  This is exactly what they were fighting.  They didn't want a concrete recycling operation near their neighborhoods.  They stuck together and beat it! At least for now. The developer can try again in a year. Or maybe the developer won't bother and will just do it....like this developer did!?

What's so dangerous about concrete recycling? What's silica dust?

This is what OSHA says about it:  

"Crystalline silica is an important industrial material found abundantly in the earth's crust.  Quartz, the most common form of silica, is a component of sand, stone, rock, concrete, brick, block, and mortar.   

Silica dust is hazardous when very small (respirable) particles are inhaled.  These respirable dust particles can penetrate into the lungs and cause disabling and sometimes fatal lung diseases, including silicosis and lung cancer, as well as kidney disease.

Exposure to respirable silica occurs when cutting, sawing, drilling, and crushing of concrete, ceramic tiles, rock, and stone products." 

The Fort Worth Weekly recently published a short article about these unauthorized industrial operations but said our neighborhoods "aren't bothered".  


I think uninformed is more the case.


Friday, June 10, 2016

Fort Worth: Got Permits?




Question:  What’s worse than developer Wallace Hall trying to put a concrete recycling plant near east side neighborhoods?
Answer: Developer Ken Newell operating two concrete recycling plants near east side neighborhoods without permits or public hearings!
That’s exactly what Metroplex Sand & Gravel, owned by developer Ken Newell, is doing. At least Wallace Hall followed the rules.  Ken Newell has been developing without permits and expired permits for decades. Sure, he’s been caught a couple of times, but at the very worst, Fort Worth issued him a Notice of Violation and then allowed him to get the permit after the fact.  


Do you think the average citizen could get away with putting a concrete recycling plant in their front yard?  I don’t think so.  We’re issued citations and fined for the heinous acts of leaving our trash cans at the curb too long, building a fence a few inches too high, or worse, being the victim of a house fire. And we’re subjected to an army of city inspectors when building an oh-so-potentially-hazardous storage shed in our backyard.
Meanwhile, Ken Newell is allowed to operate concrete recycling plants without permits, public hearings, and inspections. These are industrial activities which spew carbon dioxide, silica, and dust into the air, into our lungs, and into our homes on the east side of Fort Worth.     
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the City of Fort Worth’s Environmental Division of Air Quality claim they were unaware of these operations until Wallace Hall’s plans brought attention to concrete recycling activities.  
Anyone want to bet what the consequences for developer Ken Newell will be?
To be continued…..  

Monday, April 18, 2016

PLEASE JOIN ME THIS THURSDAY NIGHT!

SAVE THE DATE: THIS THURSDAY, APRIL 21, 2016


Irresponsible industry and two-timing politicians and government agencies changed my life. As a Fort Worth citizen devastated by the negative impacts of urban gas drilling, I’m excited to announce the Fort Worth premiere of the documentary Dear President Obama, The Clean Energy Revolution Is Now.

The film is produced and directed by National Geographic’s Jon Bowermaster and takes a cross-country look at drilling, highlights stories of its victims, contamination, and the false promise of economic boom, and emphasizes the need for clean energy solutions. Several Fort Worth and area citizens are in this film.

I’m honored to be on the discussion panel with Jon Bowermaster, noted oceans expert, award-winning journalist, author, filmmaker, and six-time grantee of the National Geographic Expeditions Council; Dr. Bill Luker, Jr., Urban Environmental Economist with a PhD. in Economics from UT-Austin; Mark Miller, Ph.D. in petroleum engineering, retired professor of petroleum engineering at UT-Austin, and current candidate for Texas Railroad Commission; and Calvin Tillman, former Mayor of DISH, Texas and current Deputy Mayor of Aubrey, Texas. Our panel will be moderated by Reverend Kyev Tatum, minister, civil rights activist, former collegiate athlete, and university administrator.

There are only 250 seats available for the Fort Worth viewing and they’re going fast so please reserve your free tickets at:


WHEN: April 21, 2016
5 PM to 8 PM
WHERE: The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth
3200 Darnell Street
Fort Worth, Texas 76107
WHAT: Reception with cash bar begins at 5 PM. Meet the director, panel, and locals interviewed for the film.
Discussion panel at 6 PM.
Film premieres at 7 PM and is 110 minutes in length. The panel will be available after the film to answer your questions and discuss ways you can help.
WHY YOU SHOULD ATTEND: Because we're all affected by irresponsible drilling and paid-off politicians and government agencies.


Hope to see you there!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Permitting Affluenza

On March 9, 2016, our wonderful Fort Worth Zoning Commission voted 7-2 in favor of establishing a larger boundary around the historic Stockyards.  I, like many others, are thrilled with their decision and proud of them for representing the people's wishes.

The developers are acting like spoiled brats!  The larger boundary doesn't mean the area can't be developed, it just means more care and consideration will be taken into what is built in the area.  Lord knows permitting oversight in Fort Worth is on the endangered species list.

Just this week, Fort Worth's Asst. City Manager Fernando Costa had to eat some crow regarding permitting problems.  This ain't their first rodeo either.  Fort Worth is knee-deep in permitting snafus by developers who have an over-developed sense of entitlement and who are way too used to asking forgiveness instead of permission.  The developers know all too well that if their permitting problem is ever actually caught, the City won't make them take it down.  Below is just one example.

http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2016/03/07/city-admits-building-code-mistakes-but-neighbors-remain-unhappy/

Developers in Fort Worth seem to enjoy permitting privileges the average citizen could only dream of and our Zoning Commissioners, minus the 2 who sold out, sent a message to developers and elected officials that Fort Worth's history is more precious than money.

By the way, our Zoning Commissioners aren't elected, they are appointed, and I wouldn't be surprised if some of them get booted off the Zoning Commission as a result of their Stockyards-friendly, people-approved, developers-disappointed decision.  We need to support our brave Zoning Commissioners and thank them for speaking up for us.  

I think we should pack City Hall on April 5, 2016 and take note of which City Councilperson represents their citizens and which ones represent the developers.   The ones that don't represent the people need to be voted off the island!










Wednesday, December 16, 2015

You Have Milk On Your Face Fort Worth

The Fort Worth Way has struck again!  Common people continue to be persecuted and prosecuted by the City of Fort Worth while private developers and industry are granted immunity.  This time, the victims of the Fort Worth Way are farmers.


What is the heinous crime committed by these people?  Believe it or not, providing people with wholesome, hormone-free, raw milk direct from their cows.    

In yet another incredibly embarrassing moment and demonstration of total lack of common sense and good judgment, a Fort Worth jury found Eldon Hooley, the owner of Rosey Ridge Farm, guilty of “Food Establishment Unapproved Source.”

Mr. Hooley transported milk from his farm to Fort Worth using a van owned by the family farm.  Evidently, according to Texas law, the van is considered a “food establishment” because it transported food for the consumption of others.   
 
I wonder how the Hooleys got caught.  Could it have been surveillance by Fort Worth Code Compliance? I doubt it....they couldn't even find the towering concrete batch plant that was constructed without a permit. 

Maybe Mr. Hooley wouldn't have been prosecuted if he said the milk was going to be used for a city-related project...that's the excuse the City of Fort Worth gave for not even citing the private developer who constructed the concrete batch plant without a permit!

The Hooley's attorney, Gary Cox of Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund, reportedly plans to file a motion for a new trial.  If his motion is denied, he will reportedly file an appeal.

I hope they win!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

OVERDRAWN in Fort Worth....Our Mitigation Banks

I have attached a link to a story about mitigation banks on the east side of Fort Worth which was recently reported about in the newspaper….not the Star Telegram, but the Houston Chronicle.  I wish the Star Telegram would do more investigative reporting. 
What is mitigation banking?
Mitigation banking is an agreement between a property owner and federal regulatory agencies to preserve, enhance, restore, or create a wetland area for the purpose of compensating for the inevitable destruction caused by construction in another area. Mitigation bank owners sell credits to government agencies and private developers who need permits to destroy other areas of wetland.    
I hadn’t heard of mitigation banking until gas drilling became widespread in our neighborhood and I became more aware of the properties around me. I was happy to learn there were two very large mitigation banks near my home. I was comforted by the thought that at least the land would be preserved and safe from the careless gas drilling practices I had personally witnessed in our area.
But the "preserved" land was drilled anyway!  
I learned the US Army Corps of Engineers is the primary regulatory agency for mitigation banks and responsible for their oversight.  The Corps approves the activities of the mitigation bank, determines how many credits a mitigation bank contains, and decides when there are no more credits available.  
I also learned that in 2008 the EPA and Corps implemented new guidelines and cited mineral exploration as an “incompatible use” of mitigation banks.  So why was the mitigation bank owner in our neighborhood allowed to drill?   
Unfortunately, the 2008 guidelines included a little clause which gave each Corps District Office the authority to approve acceptable uses on a case-by-case basis. It also included a grandfather clause for existing mitigation bank owners.
Why would the Corps allow the un-preservation of preserved land? Isn’t that why mitigation bank owners are paid millions of dollars, to keep their land as is and not develop it for profit? Maybe a refund is in order by mitigation bank owners who destroy the land they agreed and were paid handsomely to preserve.  
So what can we do to preserve our wetlands? My suggestion is to shine the light on this practice by contacting the Mitigation Section of the Corps Fort Worth District Office (817-886-1306). Let them know you read the Houston Chronicle article and have concerns about how the Corps allows certain mitigation bank owners to change the designated use of preserved wetlands. Ask this regulatory agency to please step up their monitoring of local mitigation banks.  

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Those dang east side cops are.....

My heroes! Especially these 2 officers!


The police officers on the east side of Fort Worth are the bravest, most patient, and most versatile officers of the Fort Worth Police Department.  East side officers never know what they're going to be doing next.  The east side of Fort Worth is truly a unique part of town. In a blink of an eye you can go from inner city to wild and western.

My husband Larry and I run about 35 head of cattle on the east side of Fort Worth on a couple of hundred acres of land in what old timers refer to as the river bottoms. It's a lot of work, but worth every drop of blood, sweat, and tears.  Fort Worth is still cow-town after all.

One of our biggest challenges is maintaining fence lines and keeping gates closed.    There  are a lot of fence line and gates in a couple of hundred acres and we have to check these regularly.  Trees fall on the fence, flooding knocks out stretches of fence, disrespectful fishermen cut our fence in order to get to the river to fish (respectful fisherman place a blanket over the barbed wire and pass through it), disrespectful people on 4-wheelers cut our gate locks so they can ride all over the hay field we keep plowed and sowed with wheat, oats, and hay for our cattle, and gas drilling companies are notorious for leaving gates open while they're working or mowing right-of-ways.

When you drive down Randol Mill Road, it's not uncommon to see this in our front yard or in the hay field on Precinct Line Road.  It's a peaceful sight!


But at rush hour, at the intersection of Randol Mill and Precinct Line Roads, this is not such peaceful sight!



The other day, my policemen heroes responded to a call reference a herd of cattle in the road. And while the cows technically weren't in the road, they definitively were a distraction to drivers.  

The policemen were quick to respond and within seconds had the traffic under control while my husband paraded part of the cattle down Randol Mill Road as if it was the Stockyards.  The other group of wayward heifers were spooked by all of the attention and suddenly remembered the exact location from which they had made their escape and returned home. The disrespectful fisherman had struck again.....more fence line had been cut by the Precinct Line bridge.

Here are the girls cooling off in the river after their adventure.

                                      

I can't thank the officers enough for being so professional, safety-minded, understanding, and helpful.  I think we too often take our police for granted. They place their lives on the line every second they're on duty working to serve and protect us; and now their lives are at risk even when they're not on duty because of a few bad cops. I strongly believe that if a cop goes bad and for whatever reason doesn't get what's coming to him on this earth, he sure will get it, and then some, when his time on earth expires.

As for our east side neighbors who were inconvenienced by our cattle, please accept our apologies.  Y'all really are the best neighbors! Like the police, you are patient and tolerant of the challenges associated with living near a working farm in the city.  You call, text, and come by the house to let us know when a cow is out, you slow down as you drive by the farm, and you smile and wave as my husband slows down the traffic on his tractor with his hay equipment. Strangers have become neighbors and neighbors have become friends. 

East side neighbors and police are the best!!!

 Mary Kelleher