Victoria County Courthouse

Victoria County commissioners meet in the Victoria County Courthouse, 115 N. Bridge St.

Another Victoria County resident aired his concerns over Zinc Resources’ proposed hazardous waste facility at the Commissioners Court meeting Monday.

Mark Taylor, who lives within two miles from the proposed plant’s location, said he was concerned about the possible impacts of the plant on the community.

“I don’t want to sound like an environmental activist, because I’m not,” Taylor said. “But I’m concerned about it, and my community is concerned about it.”

After facing widespread opposition in Live Oak County, Houston-based Zinc Resources is now looking to build an electric-arc, furnace-dust recycling facility at the Port of Victoria.

A number of residents so far have voiced concerns.

Taylor asked commissioners for a townhall meeting, so community members could hear from both Zinc Resources and the commissioners and express their concerns.

Commissioner Danny Garcia, who represents Precinct 1 where the proposed plant would be located, said that once a date is set for a meeting, he would attend.

The Port of Victoria has commissioned HDR Engineering, of Corpus Christi, to conduct a review of Zinc Resources’ air permit, according to Port records. The review should be completed by the end of this week, said County Judge Ben Zeller, and should help address residents’ concerns.

“I’m not really worried that it’s going to affect me,” Taylor said. “I’ll probably be gone by the time it affects someone, but my children and grandchildren live there, and that worries me.”

The Commissioners Court also discussed the possibility of applying for an Economic Development Administration grant to build a new, dual-purpose hangar at the Victoria Regional Airport.

The hangar would house the FBO, serve as an emergency shelter or staging area in the event of an emergency, and possibly be leased to tenants throughout the year, although questions over the practicality of leasing it were raised during the meeting.

“It’s difficult because you put in airplanes that belong to tenants, and then one day you have to tell them, ‘I have to get you out of the hangar,” said Lenny Llerena, executive director of the airport. It would be an especially difficult situation to tell them to vacate in the face of a hurricane, he said.

The application would require a 20% match from the county. The current proposed application is for a $5 million grant, which would require the county to provide $1 million.

There is a possibility that some of the $18 million in federal stimulus funding the county is set to receive would cover costs, but the Commissioners won’t know for sure until the federal government provides further guidance on how that money can be spent.

In the meantime, however, Llerena said that the two current hangars are roughly 80 years old and in need of major repairs.

“The reality of it all is if you take a walk through those hangars, you’re looking at a major refurbishment. You’re looking at upwards of over a million dollars to repair,” said Llerena. “At some point, when you start getting quotes to refurbish it, you have to make a decision of whether it is important to you to retrofit that and spend a lot of money to keep that, or is it a better idea to just start from scratch?”

No decision was reached Monday. Commissioners requested Llerena and the Office of Emergency Management to provide them with more information on what a dual-purpose hangar would look like. There is currently no deadline for the grant that the county would need to apply by.

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Cat writes about Victoria's city and county government. Questions, tips, or ideas? Let me know cdelaura@vicad.com or (361) 580-6511

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