Hearing scheduled on city sewer project

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

April 2, 2012 at 4:05 p.m.
Updated April 1, 2012 at 11:02 p.m.

A controversial public project will go before an administrative court judge Wednesday morning.

The project calls for the city of Victoria to build a $20-million wastewater treatment facility on Hand Road, between Ben Jordan and Odem streets.

The city has said the project is necessary to meet the growth of the city and started planning for it after the regional treatment plant reached a 75 percent capacity for three months in 2005. However, some residents say because the water and sewer rates have already increased, the public should know more about the need for a new sewer plant.

Wednesday is the final opportunity for residents to petition the court to be considered an affected party, said Victoria city attorney Thomas Gwosdz. Judge Anne Perez, of the State Office of Administrative Hearings, is presiding over the case.

Gwosdz said the city is working with an outside law firm for this case.

Henry Perez and Kevin McNary are two people identified earlier by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality as affected parties in the case.

Perez said he expects about 30 residents to attend Wednesday's preliminary hearing to try to be named affected parties.

McNary said he has received "a lot of support ever since the whole subject came up."

The nine-month hearing process will address whether the facility will hurt the recreational uses in the Guadalupe River; public water supply and nearby wells; residents' health, aquatic life or endangered species; whether it complies with nuisance odor control and buffer zone requirements; and whether the application is complete.

Emett Alvarez, who lives two miles from the project and voiced his opposition to it, plans to attend Wednesday's hearing.

"I'm not considered an affected land owner, but that wind blows right toward my house," Alvarez said. "If there's a smell, we would smell it. ..."

Alvarez is a candidate for Precinct 1 seat on the city council in the May 12 election. He is running against incumbent Denise Rangel.

If built, the plant would be in Precinct 1.



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