A proposal to build concrete and asphalt batch plants at Northwest Highway and Garland Road is meeting resistance by neighbors

More than 3,000 neighbors concerned about a proposal by Martin Marietta to build concrete and asphalt batch plants at Northwest Highway and Garland Road have signed a petition asking the Dallas City Council to reject the plan. Residents say the plants will reduce property values in the area due to visual blight, additional noise and truck traffic. They are also concerned about potential dust and fumes that may severely affect those with health problems or cause healthy people to become sick.

“There are a ton of reasons why this is a terrible idea,” wrote organizer Kirsten Swanson on Nextdoor.com. “The wind will blow the cement and asphalt dust all over for miles causing not just breathing and respiratory issues, but [property damage] as well.” Swanson also raised concerns about pollutants running into White Rock Lake and other nearby water sources, and the impact of additional heavy truck traffic on Northwest Highway, Walnut Hill and other roadways.

“The company is promising all these new safety protocols,” Swanson added, “but if you look up their recent track record, they have violations all over the USA at plants just like their proposed one for East Dallas.”

The proposed site, just south and east of Lake Highlands, is in Dallas’ District 9. Councilwoman Paula Blackmon is organizing a 5 p.m. Zoom meeting Tuesday and inviting interested parties to express their concerns. Masterplan consultant Dallas Cothrum, who advises Martin Marietta on land use, zoning and building permits, will participate in the online discussion.

The application filed with the City Plan Commission proposes creating a new subarea within a Planned Development District – zoned for manufacturing uses since 1954 – to construct two batch plants near Zacha Junction that, according to the document, would mix concrete and asphalt for the Texas Department of Transportation project to reconstruct and widen Interstate 635 from U.S. 75 to Interstate 30.

TxDOT awarded the project to Martin Marietta and Austin Bridge & Road.

The proposal was presented at the May 27 Dallas City Council meeting after the City Plan Commission voted 13-1 to pass the motion on to the Council for consideration. The Council deferred a vote until June 24 to allow more time for community feedback. Both Blackmon and Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Adam McGough, who represents Lake Highlands, have said they will not support the proposal at the June 24 Council meeting.

“In the past week, I have received numerous concerns from residents of D10 concerning the proposed batch plant, and I share their concerns,” said McGough. “Based on the info I have at this point, the lack of community engagement and the negative responses I have received, I cannot support the project moving forward.”

Former District 9 City Councilman Mark Clayton was among those speaking out against the plants, saying the proposal is almost identical to one the City Council voted down a year and a half ago when the plants were proposed in the Joppa area of South Dallas.

“The only difference between that case and now is the spin on how they’re trying to sell it,” Clayton said on Facebook. “It is the same applicant and the same zoning consultant, except the way they’re positioning it is that it’s for the 635 project. It isn’t. It never was. It’s a slight of hand that allows you to assume it’s a temporary plant for a temporary project. That plant will be there and will be the primary batch plant servicing the entirety of DFW for the life of its plant.”

According to documents submitted by Masterplan, CO2 emissions at the plants will be reduced due to their proximity to the rail line. One train with 100 cars carrying 10,000 tons of aggregate keeps 417 trucks off the road, they argue, and saves 26,000 tons of CO2 emissions. Off-site batching would require 62,550 trucks to deliver materials to the site, they say. Vented emissions will be four times less than that of a char-grilled burger facility over the course of the year, they stress.

Masterplan documents say construction of the plants falls within the goals of Opportunity Zones designed to give tax incentives to developers to uplift neighborhoods like Lochwood and Casa View. But many neighbors think building more heavy industry in the area diminishes neighborhood character and contradicts renewal plans.

“The East Dallas community is an awesome, gritty, green and stubborn work-in-progress that has seen positive change in the last few years,” Clayton said. “It is one of the last affordable and desirable residential areas of Dallas. Approving this plan trades neighborhoods for net profit of people who don’t even live in the community.”

In Houston, another company recently scrapped plans to build a concrete batch plant when the mayor and state officials joined local residents in opposition.

“I am relieved to learn that Soto Ready Mix has withdrawn its application to build a concrete batch plant in Acres Homes,” Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said in January. “This is a great victory for residents who did not want to live with unhealthy air emissions, specifically particulate matter, heavy trucks and noise in their neighborhood.”

In a letter, Lake Highlands neighbor Kathryn Martin urged Council members to reject the plan, saying “if the proposal was not good for one [Dallas] neighborhood, why should it be a good fit for the Casa View/Casa Linda neighborhoods? This concrete batch plant needs to be located far away from established neighborhoods and in an area zoned for heavy industry.”

The Council is expected to vote June 24.

Carol Toler and Sam Gillespie contributed to this story.