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Travis Commissioners divided on Webberville legislation

Wednesday, May 6, 2009 by Jacob Cottingham

Travis County Commissioners declined Tuesday to support a bill by Rep. Dawnna Dukes that would give Webberville veto power over landfill permits on nearby land owned by the city of Austin. Pct. 1 Commissioner Ron Davis made a motion to support the bill, but only Pct. 3 Commissioner Karen Huber joined him, and the motion failed.


Deece Eckstein, coordinator of intergovernmental relations for Travis County, explained Dukes’ bill to commissioners. “There has been much concern in the eastern portion of Travis County with the use of the [city owned] land as a landfill, and what this bill would do essentially, is forbid the TCEQ from granting landfill permits for that land unless that permit was signed off on by the village of Webberville.” The bill has been pending in committee since March 18.


Judge Sam Biscoe shied away from the county stepping into Austin’s affairs. He rhetorically asked the court, “Would we like it if the city told us what to do?” Pct. 2 Commissioner Sarah Eckhardt also had concerns about granting Webberville disproportionate power. “I don’t know if there’s another provision like this where a town of 300 has veto power over TCEQ and the city of Austin,” she told the court. Eckhardt also explained the Webberville and its citizens have a right to appeal any landfill permitting through the TCEQ process.


Davis called the landfill a “hot button issue,” and pointed out that the commissioners had not supported Webberville last year when he had introduced an item that would have forbid the landfill.  Davis said Dukes, himself and other elected officials were trying to represent “this whole area in Eastern Travis that’s continuing to fight for their quality of life” to improve.


“I would feel very offended . . . again,” Davis continued, “if this court did not support a bill such as this that gives us a way to determine what should be the situation for a landfill location in this community.” 


Davis did not get the support he wanted. Because Travis County Commissioners require at least four votes to oppose or support legislation, the motion failed.

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