After a months-long delay that caused the Granbury City Council to declare a moratorium on development, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) appears poised to green-light a second wastewater treatment plant to be located on the east side of town.

The city received notice on Thursday that the state agency’s executive director has determined that the city’s permit application “meets the requirements of applicable law.”

The TCEQ issued a draft permit for the facility last year but did not move forward with issuing a final permit at that time. Instead, the agency agreed to extend the public comment period and organized a webcast so that affected individuals could express their views and concerns.

The construction delay caused the City Council to declare a development moratorium in the eastern part of the city because the existing wastewater treatment plant on Waters Edge Drive is near capacity.

That plant could not be expanded due to TCEQ permit requirements for that site and because of a contractual agreement with nearby individuals and homeowners associations, according to City Manager Chris Coffman.

Notices sent this week by the TCEQ to the city and those who participated in the public comment period included a letter from Chief Clerk Laurie Gharis and a 51-page document titled “Executive Director’s Response to Public Comment.”

The report by Executive Director Toby Baker lists specific concerns raised by citizens and his responses to those concerns.

Gharis’ letter states that any requests for a contested case hearing or reconsideration of the executive director’s decision must be submitted within 30 days.

According to Coffman, if the matter is not referred to the Texas State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH), where proceedings are similar to a civil trial, the TCEQ’s commissioners will likely consider final approval of the permit within 6-8 weeks after the 30-day window has closed.

The proposed wastewater treatment plant at 3121 Old Granbury Road will operate with Membrane Bioreactor technology, discharging up to 2 million gallons of treated domestic wastewater per day into a tributary of Rucker Creek, which feeds into Lake Granbury.

City officials have stated that the facility will not pose health or environmental risks and that there will not be a sewage smell emanating from the site.

Coffman and elected officials have previously noted that the city worked with TCEQ staff throughout the permit application process. They expressed confidence that the facility would not only meet required standards but exceed them.

“I think that the issue isn’t the citizens against the city so much as the citizens are against the state rules and regulations pertaining to sanitary sewer facilities,” Coffman said Friday.

The city manager said he is “cautiously optimistic” that the city will receive final approval without a SOAH hearing.

He said that the City Council will likely act quickly to lift the development moratorium once the permit has been granted.

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Letter from Chief Clerk Laurie Gharis and EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S RESPONSE TO PUBLIC COMMENT