NE Harris County community voices concerns over nearby sandpit

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Concerns over contaminated well-water and other safety issues have one community in unincorporated Northeast Harris County upset over a sand pit being set up in their area.

They say their neighborhood, around Winfield Road, has been taken over by the trucks going in and out of the site where that sand pit is going. They worry for their water, their safety, their property value, and they want the project shut down.

"We were all noticing that the big haul trucks were going back and forth, so everybody assumed it was going to be a new subdivision," says Carol Dejean.

But when they started asking questions, Dejean says her neighbors found out it was going to be a sand-mine operated by Cherry Crushed Concrete.

"We're concerned that nobody showed any interest in how we felt, or the impact on the environment," says Ross Cullins.

For example, film on top of water in a ditch next to the construction site - it's not something a community that depends on well-water wants to see.

"If it leaks into the ground, nobody's monitoring it," Cullins says. "And we don't want to find out 10-15 years down the road that people are having cancer because of things occurred as a result of being dumped into the water system."

Vincent Cantu says his water has already seen the impact from the sand mine construction. He also worries for his property value.

"If they stay here, the value of my land is going to go down, and I worked too hard for that," Cantu said.

With the 180-plus acres that used to be woods now cleared, Cantu says he's also worried about safety.

"Now all the wild animals are coming over to our property. All the wild hogs, my granddaughter saw about 50 wild hogs over here."

"We really want to shut them down," Carol Dejean explained passionately.

But that's not likely to happen. About a half dozen people from their neighborhood spoke at Tuesday's Commissioner's Court. They met with their Commissioner, El Franco Lee and other county staff afterwards.

A staffer with Lee's office tells us their hands are tied because Cherry got all the proper permits through the state.

Owner Leonard Cherry told Eyewitness News over the phone, "Our family name is on everything, so we don't like to create problems. We try to be good neighbors."

Leonard Cherry says they're putting up a 100-foot buffer, which is more than he's required to do, and he urges the group to call him with concerns.

Commissioner Lee's spokesman says they'll work to make sure crews are following traffic laws, and the land and water will be monitored closely for pollution.

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