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Public hearing on controversial Joppa asphalt plant scheduled — and promptly postponed

An "Ask Adam about Austin Asphalt" sign is placed in front of the J.C. Phelps Recreation Center ahead of a community meeting in Joppa.
Nathan Collins
An "Ask Adam about Austin Asphalt" sign is placed in front of the J.C. Phelps Recreation Center ahead of a community meeting in Joppa.

Joppa residents will have to wait again to voice concerns about a controversial asphalt plant. A public hearing was scheduled and then postponed the same day.

This latest installment in the Joppa saga comes after a statement released on Monday by District 7 City Council Member Adam Bazaldua's office revealed the city staff had found the controversial plant to be “out of compliance” per their permit with the city. And that, according to the statement, meant the plant was now subject to a public hearing.

But on the same day the statement was released, Masterplan, the company representing the asphalt plant, requested that the public hearing scheduled for the May 4 City Plan Commission meeting be postponed, according to documents obtained by KERA News.

The public hearing is now scheduled for June 15, according to a public notice.

In a letter addressed to the city’s chief planner, a representative from Masterplan said the company didn’t know the permit would be open for a public hearing “until 1:20 p.m.” on Monday — the day Bazaldua's office issued the statement — and claims the city did not give any information as to why the permit renewal was denied.

“We would like more information which we have never received so that we can properly vet and review the city staff comments,” the representative said in the letter.

Andreea Udrea is an assistant director for the city's Planning and Urban Design department. She says the city did notify the company about violations staff found during a site visit.

"We did send an email with a list of our findings," Udrea said in an interview Wednesday. "They knew what they applied for. And we did our due diligence to do a site visit."

KERA unsuccessfully reached out to Masterplan for comment.

Udrea says the violations that led to the permit being denied included landscaping issues, fence installation and parking infrastructure.

City staff conducts site visits anytime a facility applies for a new permit. Udrea says a visit was done in 2013 when the plant renewed its permit with the city.

But she also says city code gives Masterplan — and other applicants and nearby property owners — the option to apply and pay for a public hearing postponement. Once for a City Plan Commission hearing and once for City Council.

"The applicant submitted and took advantage of the option to postpone on Monday," Udrea said. "Which was within the required window, per the code."

After the company was granted the delayed hearing, the city sent out a rescheduling notice on Wednesday to residents around the facility.

It is unclear whether Masterplan will work to remedy violations found by the city, but Udrea says her staff will present their findings from the plant's site visit. Representatives of the facility and Joppa residents will also be able to present any information related to the permit renewal.

At a “community meeting” in early April, District 7 City Plan Commissioner Tabitha Wheeler-Reagan told Joppa residents that a public hearing was “a last resort” — and that community members needed to come up with data to indicate an environmental issue.

Some residents plan on doing just that at the public hearing — even if it is delayed.

The plant has been in operation in Joppa since 2009. Residents and activists say it’s a major source of pollution in the community and have tried numerous times to stop the permit renewal process — with no luck.

For now, community members who had hoped to voice concerns about what they say are the plant’s negative health effects, will have to wait another month.

Got a tip? Email Nathan Collins at You can follow Nathan on Twitter @nathannotforyou.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gifttoday. Thank you.

Nathan Collins is the Dallas Accountability Reporter for KERA. Collins joined the station after receiving his master’s degree in Investigative Journalism from Arizona State University. Prior to becoming a journalist, he was a professional musician.