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SAWS tables resolution to take land from local restaurant in business for half a century

The family hired an engineer who said there are plenty of alternatives to the proposed lift station.

SAN ANTONIO — KENS 5 has learned about a plan by San Antonio Water System to take over land owned by a local business for more than half a century. SAWS wants to build a lift station on private property that belongs to Piedras Negras de Noche restaurant.

The owner, Juan Rodriguez Sr. said the restaurant located on S. Laredo is more than a family-owned restaurant.

"It's all I've been doing since I came out of the service in the service for years in the Navy, in Vietnam," Rodriguez Sr. said.

The family, as well as supporters, spoke during public comment at the monthly SAWS Board Meeting. 

Rocky Aranda, President and Owner of Milcon Construction said he's been a long-time patron.

"Morcilla. That's my favorite," Aranda said of his favorite dish. He said as he spoke in favor of the family's business Tuesday. 

Also in attendance, Mary Alice Cisneros. She is the former councilwoman for District 1. She also said she enjoys the restaurant and said the owners are like family. 

"The chile rellenos of course," Cisneros said of her favorite dish. She said what is happening to the Rodriguez family is unlike San Antonio, especially for a business that has been around for so long.  

"They're human. They got that human element and it makes that makes the food taste so much better," Aranda said. 

The owners, the Rodriguez family, worry their beloved restaurant won’t be around for much longer.

"The city can do some things and not check the sensitivity of the people. It's not right," Rodriguez Sr. said. 

SAWS said it needs a portion of the family’s property for their lift station project. The plan is to place a sewer main and lift station near IH-35 and S. Laredo street

The proposed station would be located in the restaurant's parking lot near the front of the building. 

The Rodriguez family is worried six months of construction will drive away customers, and bring with it a terrible smell.

"It will be the demise of my family's legacy," Juan's son and attorney, John Rodriguez Jr., said.

The family feels as though their small business is being attacked, when there is a McDonalds and Shell gas station located next door, they ask, why not build there?

So they’ve hired an engineer. Marc Long is partner and owner at SRB Engineering and said there are plenty of alternatives.

"We feel like looking at an alternative along the same San Pedro creek right of way area would allow for a gravity sewer to be installed and then a lift station that would be less intrusive to all of the parties," Long said. 

Robert Puente, President and CEO of SAWS said they’ve met with the family multiple times, and said it’s a federal requirement to replace the sewer lines. He said it would take up a mere two parking spaces and take less than six months to build with no smell.

Puente added a gas line prevents them from building on the aforementioned properties.

"Something as big as your camera sticking out of the ground, that's all it is," Puente said in reference to a KENS 5 video camera on a tripod. 

Puente went on to say the proposed location was actually the family’s idea, and the family has known about the project for a year. 

"They gave us 10 different recommendations not to do what we were originally planning to do. So this came straight from their civil engineer," Puente said. 

The original location for the station would have been located in the back of the parking lot and adjacent to McDonald's. The Rodriguez family said they opposed the original plan due to parking concerns while construction is taking place. 

SAWS opted to table a resolution that would allow the utility to take all appropriate action to obtain the easements.

And while the family says they’re glad the resolution has been tabled for a few weeks, they fear their fight isn’t over.