Latino’s Ready Mix Concrete sits on West Commerce Street with residential neighborhoods to the north and south. In 2019, citing residential development in the area, the city gave the concrete batch plant 18 months to relocate. When that time expired in May this year, Latino’s began operating without a specific use permit.
When the plant applied for the required permit, the City Plan Commission denied the request. Latino’s Ready Mix Concrete appealed that decision and will argue its case before the City Council. The plant's owners didn't respond to requests for comment.
The plant operates eight trucks that haul about 10 cubic yards of concrete, weighing some 20 tons. The plant pumps out anywhere between 30-60 cubic yards of concrete every hour. Every day, those trucks take 30-40 trips in and out of the plant.
According to city staff, these trucks “rapidly degrade the public infrastructure within West Commerce Street.”
Although roads in the area can handle all this traffic, the trucks cause “considerable damage” to asphalt pavement and create debris on the road and dust clouds in the air.
North of the batch plant are single-family homes. To the immediate east, south and west are other properties zoned for commercial service and industrial uses, like the concrete batch plant. Further south, though, is another residential area.
Emmanuel Glover is a West Dallas resident. About two years ago, he moved to a six-block neighborhood north of the concrete batch plant known as Gilbert-Emory. Now, he's the a member of the neighborhood association and will be speaking against the batch plants zoning request in front of City Council.
“People in this enclave, in the Gilbert-Emory enclave especially that are very close to these factories, are struggling with quality air,” he said. Residents can't even go outside in the evenings or early mornings because of the pollution caused by the plants, Glover said.
"This is affecting our quality of life, and we want something to be done about this," he said.
Because residential uses on property to the south have expanded in recent years, city staff says it’s an inappropriate spot for a concrete batch plant. Redevelopment efforts in the area are also cited as a reason for the City Council to deny the zoning request.
Kathryn Bazan used to work for the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. She co-founded a group called East Dallas Greater Good to deal with an industrial encroachment issue with a concrete batch plant in her community. Bazan is also the vice chair of the Dallas Sierra Club’s Eco Action and Conservation Committee and has been working with West Dallas 1's environmental justice commission.
"This is affecting our quality of life and we want something to be done about this." – Emmanuel Glover, Gilbert-Emory Neighborhood Association
“All of these environmental justice issues in West Dallas come back to one common thread – and that thread is zoning,” Bazan said.
She said there have been plenty of improvements over the years (and there are more in the works) to Dallas’ zoning policy that aim to protect residential neighborhoods from industrial encroachment. “Applying that lens of equity in zoning would remedy a lot of these issues,” Bazan said.
Latino’s Ready Mix Concrete is just one of the plants Bazan and other advocates have focused on since around March this year. It took a lawsuit to shut down a concrete plant just next door.
The City Plan Commission also gave this plant time to relocate, but it didn't move. The plant continued to operate for about two years, but then a lawsuit forced them to shut down.
Just last month, Bazan and others testified before the TCEQ hoping to persuade the agency to deny a temporary permit for a concrete batch plant less than 400 yards away from an elementary school.
West Dallas is also home to a GAF asphalt shingle factory, the largest industrial sulfur dioxide polluter in the county, according to the Texas 2019 official emissions inventory. Singleton United/Unidos, a community association formed a couple of months ago to represent residents in West Dallas' Singleton Corridor, is working to get GAF out of the neighborhood.
"Singleton United/Unidos will be giving GAF, Dallas County’s largest polluter of Sulfur Dioxide and its 4th largest Particulate Matter polluter, an ultimatum to leave of its own accord or face forced eviction through a municipal zoning process known as amortization," the group said in a press release last month. (The city used a similar process to permanently close a lead smelter plant that operated just a few blocks east of GAF in the early 1980s.)
“This is about our basic rights to breathe clean air,” Janie Cisneros, a member of the association said. "We don’t want to be worried for our families’ health because of where we live. GAF must move.”
Though they’re committed, these fights aren’t easy for the community, Bazan said.
“It’s a full-time job because as soon as you get one of these facilities closed down another one pops up,” she said. “It’s exhausting for these people who have families and full time jobs and other things that they like to do with their free time [other] than fight for their right to have clean air, which I think is a basic right.”