Editorial: Transparency lacking as county considers location for asphalt plant
By Allen Rich
Apr 9, 2019
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It seems we are on the verge of beginning public meetings regarding the proposed location for an asphalt plant in east Bonham, yet residents have not been given the information they need in time to provide input to elected officials who are responsible for this project.

I make no judgment on whether or not this was intentional. Instead, I will ask you to read the following agenda item to be discussed Tuesday morning, April 9 in Fannin County Commissioners Court and make up your own mind.

  • 15. Discussion, Consideration and Action to establish a public hearing date and time regarding the SUP application for Austin Bridge and Road

The wording of that agenda item is so vague that homeowners in the area, as well as residents of a low-income retirement village 200 yards to the west, have no idea that the county is considering allowing an asphalt plant to be constructed on the corner of Pecan Street and Bicentennial Drive, a decision that has the potential to impact quality of life for nearby residents as well as property values.

My concern isn't directed towards the company that wants to build the asphalt plant or the landowner who is apparently ready to lease the land.

My concern is that the residents who will be impacted most have received no warning from county officials.

Rather than release a reasonable amount of public information, we get vague agenda items and the most common response seems to be a chuckle followed by, "Well, that's a done deal."

It may very well be, too. While the glaring lack of transparency on this project is appalling, it may end up being effective.

But perhaps before we start telling people it's a "done deal," let's have the public meetings the law requires us to have.

Sure, it's a sweet deal for the company that has picked out the cheapest place to set up an asphalt plant and it is probably a great deal for the landowner who seems ready and willing to lease the land to them.

But is it fair to build an asphalt plant this close to homes and a retirement village without at least informing the public about what you are doing?

Guys, this project is small potatoes compared to the developments coming down the pipeline as urban sprawl encroaches on our rural county. When we look at commissioners court, we want to feel like we are looking at a governing body that understands the days of good ol' boy "done deals" are a thing of the past. We expect transparency. It sure didn't happen this time.

I have no personal ax to grind with our commissioners and I hope I treat each one of them with courtesy and professionalism. I had originally thought that this "done deal" was likely in the works before the current commissioners court took shape, but I stand corrected. This glaring lack of transparency rests squarely on the shoulders of this court, as it sits right now.

Now, you may get your "Done Deal Asphalt Plant" in the edge of Bonham, but I have knocked on doors of homes on County Road 2610 and they had no idea what you are doing.

These people support you.

These people vote for you.

They put your campaign signs in their yard.

And they deserved better.

Allen Rich, North Texas e-News