INGLESIDE, Texas — On Tuesday night, Ingleside City Council unanimously voted to deny a motion to permanently zone 300 acres on the west side of the city. It was proposed by a group of developers to build a Micro Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) facility and storage. The proposal was to zone a portion for industrial use and another portion C2 and zoning to develop State Highway 200.
The area encompasses land south and west of Ingleside High School, but south of State Highway 361.
It was a full house at the city council as residents wanted to share their opinions. Council chambers were at capacity, so people had to fill their annex building and watch from there, before getting their opportunity to speak.
The project was proposed by Nick Flores and The Amirian Group. According to the group's website, they are a developer in New York city of residential and commercial properties. Flores presented what the facility will bring.
He said it will be significantly smaller, about 7 acres in total, from a typical LNG facility. It will be environmentally friendly, it will be 2000 feet from the nearest homes with a 225-foot buffer zone around the area between it and Ingleside Independent School District. Flores said that the zone would be a green zone and preserve natural habitats. He added it will bring 100 permanent jobs to the city and would give Ingleside residents the first chance at those jobs including on the construction site.
Flores added there are already functioning pipelines on the property as it was once home to Exxon Mobile Pipeline. The project would have cost $400 million.
“We’re not big, we’re not dirty, we’re not close to neighbors and we’re not tax-exempt,” Flores said. "We will be paying taxes to the City of Ingleside. Approximately about $6 million a year in taxes."
A few others spoke in favor of the project, speaking about economic impact, one of them being Joseph Flores, a former Ingleside resident now in Portland.
“I grew up in Portland and the facilities and the schools that we had are definitely not like they are today," Joseph said. "This is for the future of our kids. The economic growth has been impacted tremendously with the local facilities that have come into Portland."
However, the line never stopped for those speaking against the zoning and potential project.
Many were concerned with the potential danger of LNG.
“They talked about the buffer zone, what 200, 250 feet? Y’all know how big that blast will be? It’ll be bigger than Dallas and on top of that it’ll start a chain reaction. It’ll be like domino effect,” Ingleside resident Courtney Shane said.
Many were concerned with the close proximity to Ingleside ISD.
"I haven’t heard the presenters actually state anything about our children," resident Todd Buncie said. "And to me, this is the safety of our children, 100 percent and I haven’t heard anything about that.”
“I was here two years ago to stop storage tanks near our school," Lilliana Salinas said, a sixth-grade student in Ingleside. "I cannot believe this idea is back in our town again, I just can’t stand by the sidelines watching this unfold. I ask again think about all the lives you’re putting at risk.”
Council members were very receptive to the number of people that came to speak against the permanent zoning of 300 acres. The issue was before the council because that land was not properly zoned when the city annexed the land in 1998.
After hearing from residents Councilman Steve Diehl started asking Nick Flores questions about his plans. Diehl said he was concerned because he saw Flores make three different presentations about the project over the last few weeks. He asked Flores if there were plans to sell any of the land, once acquired, and how many buildings will actually be on the land.
Flores stated it would only be the one LNG facility that would produce 300,000 gallons a day. Diehl then asked if the facility only requires about 7 acres, why are they asking to zone 300 acres?
His concern was reciprocated by fellow council members. They unanimously decided against the motion as written. However, Diehl left the door open, should the motion be reworked to zone a smaller portion.