Is it an American dream in the making or an unauthorized dump in east Bexar County? An asphalt roofing shingle recycling operation appears to be both.
KENS 5 viewers sent emails asking if D&A Recycling at 7386 FM 1346 is properly permitted after the business sprang up a few weeks ago. Viewers shared Facebook posts where the company offered to accept truckloads of any type of debris, except tires, for $100.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality said that the operation is unauthorized, but the company owner, David Gonzalez, said he is making a good faith effort to bring his business into compliance with state law.
"I put pretty much all my life savings into this, hoping that it's going to work," said Gonzalez, who added that he is a Navy veteran pursuing the American dream.
He also said that because his brothers were in the roofing and construction trades, they knew small business owners need an economically viable place to dispose of construction demolition debris.
“We provide a service for the small, little companies that can't pay the big fines. We only take shingles and decking, pretty much just roofing for construction companies. Otherwise this would end up in the dumpsters or on the streets,” said Gonzalez, who also added that he thought he was operating legally.
As a start-up business, he said that he went to Bexar County officials and was told that he needed a permit from the county fire marshal’s office. Gonzalez said that he did that and thought he had done everything necessary, but then inspectors from the state showed up.
“Somewhere down the road, there was a miscommunication from Bexar County to the State of Texas. It was scary because I thought I did everything by the book,” Gonzalez said. “I was heartbroken because I thought I had the right one.”
TCEQ verified that until Gonzalez obtains a permit, his operation is not authorized. They do not comment on current investigations but they said that they are watching and can take action if Gonzalez fails to comply with state law.
TCEQ provided the following statement:
“The TCEQ's investigation of this site is not yet final. Once the TCEQ's investigation and investigation report are completed a copy can be provided. However, for any violation(s) that are documented during the investigation, the TCEQ will take appropriate enforcement action in accordance with its administrative process. The alleged violator would be sent either a Notice of Violation, or a Notice of Enforcement, depending on the severity of the violation in accordance with the TCEQ's Enforcement Initiation Criteria. In either case, the respondent would be required to undertake all corrective action necessary to resolve the violation. When violations are serious enough to warrant formal enforcement action, the TCEQ is authorized to enforce correction of the violations and to seek penalties to deter future noncompliance. Proposed administrative penalties are calculated in accordance with the commission's Penalty Policy.”
Gonzalez, who said that he has a large insurance policy covering his operation and is in the process of filing the proper paperwork, said that he’s going to make it work.
"I want to do the right thing, you know. I'm not hiding from nobody," Gonzalez said.
The permitting process will take months, according to Gonzalez. During that time, Bexar County officials will be monitoring the business to assist TCEQ, but the county has no enforcement powers when it comes to these types of operations.
The property is located in Texas House District 119, and a spokesman with Representative Roland Gutierrez’s office said that they will be looking into the situation as well.