Gunter residents question railroad's plan for economic 'boost'
GUNTER, Texas (KTEN) — Gunter residents crowded City Hall on Thursday evening to voice their concerns to the Planning and Zoning Commission about a proposed 950-acre BNSF Railroad logistics center in their community.
"The new facility's purpose is to move industrial products or agricultural commodities by carload or trainload from a central location," the city said in announcing the project, adding that it "will give a tremendous boost to economic development in Gunter."
The logistics center — the railroad's sixth such facility — would be established on the east side of State Highway 289 at the intersection with the BNSF Railroad tracks north of the city.
"Very, very upset," said one resident. "How dare y'all come into our community? And I don't know what the city council or what any of you got in this, but I do not like it, and I oppose this, and I do not like it. Please vote 'no.'"
"I hate this idea; it's absolutely awful for our families, for our children... for anybody who wants to consider moving to Gunter," another speaker said.
The concerns raised at the meeting ranged from quality of life to safety.
"I'm very concerned with breathing chemicals in the air and potential spills and leaks getting in the water supply," one resident told the commission members.
"What is a plan for a hazardous response team?" asked another resident. "All these questions need to be answered before rezoning takes place... not afterwards."
More questions followed: What tenants would be allowed? Will the city be able to control property in the space?
"Tenants will still have to apply through the city for individual permits for their developments," explained BNSF Railway spokesperson Gary Lafoon. "They'll have to draw up their plans, submit it to the city, and seek approval for that."
There were many more questions and concerns, and the meeting that started at 6 p.m. lasted for several hours as residents explained why they opposed this proposal and wanted to see planning and zoning reject the railroad's plan.