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New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - January 27, 1999, New Braunfels, Texas 7627 E VONDELL.HERALD-ZeII UNG Vol. 148, No. 49 20 pages in 2 sections January 27, 1999 Wednesday Johnson ends his time on the stand Ingram vice president says emissions won’t exceed the legal limits By Heather Todd Staff Writer SMITHSON VALLEY — Legal representatives of local citizens groups and state agencies continued to cross examine an Ingram Readymix official Hiesday about air emissions and water usage for a proposed concrete batch plant off Texas Highway 46. Tuesday marked day two of Ingram Readymix vice president Gary Johnson’s testimony in the formal hearing, conducted by die Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission. The hearing is an official step in Ingram's application process for “standard exemption,” which would grant the concrete manufacturer the authority to construct a new plant 2.3 miles west of the U.S. 281 and Highway 46 intersection. The hearing began Monday at the Guadalupe Valley Telephone Cooperative auditorium as the third round in the continuous struggle between area residents and the concrete manufacturer. Stewart Henry, a Austin-based attorney representing Citizens League for Environmental Action Now, questioned Johnson about the proposed plant’s air pollution and use of available water in the Trinity Aquifer recharge zone. Johnson testified Monday that the planned facility's air emissions would not exceed the legal requirements of a standard exemption - 25 tons per year. Johnson said Ingram’s Total Suspended Particulate rate was .227 per year, which includes both stockpile and road emissions. The amount of dust transferred off-prop-erty by vehicles entering and leaving the plant is factored into a plant's annual air emissions. Johnson testified that truck traffic at the plant site would only travel on paved roads and the plant’s emissions were calculated with a formula that used paved roads. Johnson also said a PI8 form voluntarily completed by Ingram with the standard exemption application bound the compass JOHNSON/6A Serving Comal County since 1852 50 cents Administrative law judge Kerry Sullivan listens as Gary Johnson, vice president of Ingram Readymix, gives his testimony on Monday in the Guadalupe Valley Telephone Cooperative's auditorium. Johnson finished his time on the stand Tuesday. The hearing will continue at 9 a.m. today. ROOM CORNETT/ HeraW-Zertung CISD talking taxes Trustees may end optional exemption for district residents By Heather Togo Staff Writer — • Comal Independent School District^ ongoing struggle to fund area schools with decreasing state dollars could mean the end of a significant tax exemption for district patrons. CISD trustees will consider an administrative recommendation to eliminate an optional 20 percent homestead exemption during a board of trustees meeting 6 pm Thursday at Canyon Intermediate School, 1275 Business 35 West. CISD homeowners currently have the option to receive a tax exemption that lowers the assessed value of a home by 20 percent, which significantly reduces the amount of CISD school taxes. CISD’s 1998 property tax rate is $1.76 per $100 valuation. A CISD patron whose home has an appraised value of $100,000 currently pays school taxes on $65,000 of the appraised value with the 20 percent homestead exemption and the state's $ 15,000 homestead exemption. Abel Campos, business manager for CISD, said the elimination of the 20 percent homestead exemption would transfer the burden of school taxes back to homeowners. “Basically, non-homeowners have already been paying IOO percent of their property taxes, so their taxes will go down, but homeowners will be paying a lower tax rate on a higher appraised value,” Campos said. CISD implemented the optional See CISD/7A Inside Abby................................5A Business.............................SA Classifieds.....................6-1    OB Comics...............................5B Crossword..........................5A Forum.................................8A Local...................................4A Stammtisch........................3B Sports...........................9-10A Today.................................2A Television...........................5B Kronkosky Foundation executive director Palmer Moe reveals the most recent grants for organizations in Comal County on Tuesday at the Comal County Senior Citizen Center. The senior center received $152,500 as an emergency grant for assistance in regaining operational status and sen/ice following the October 1998 flood. ROBIN CORNETT/ Heratt-Zeitung Kronkosky grants awarded to three Comal organizations By Chris Crews Staff Writer When the Kronkosky Charitable Foundation comes to town, people listen. And having donated more than $650,000 to 20 New Braunfels and Comal County organizations since May 1998, it is no wonder people pay attention. Palmer Moe, the foundation’s executive director, and other officials announced during a press conference Tuesday its most recent grants to organizations in Comal County. The press conference originally was scheduled for Oct. 19, two days after the Great Flood of 1998. The Albeit and Bessie Mac Kronkosky Charitable Foundation was established with a $300 milli^p endowment to pro- i See GRANTS/7AMake Inspector shortage, very active market causing headaches for new homeowners By Bill O’Connell Staff Writer Buying a home in New Braunfels can be a “buyer beware” transaction. A shortage of city building inspectors and an active real estate market have left home buyers at risk for a costly learning experience. James and Amy Hartig can testify to that. The young professionals thought they were buying the home of their dreams in March 1998 when they agreed to pay $84,000 for a three-bedroom house in Canyon Heights on the city’s southeast side. “Unfortunately, we didn’t use a realtor,” Amy said. The Hartigs were unaware at the time they moved into their new home that it had failed three inspections in 1997. As far as the city of New Braunfels was concerned, the house they bought from J. Pearce Construction, a home building company in San Marcos, was uninhabitable. City of New Braunfels building official Terry Hikel confirmed the Hartigs moved into their home in 1998 without a certificate of occupancy. The house at the 800 block of Hueco Drive had failed inspections in 1997 because of substandard electric work, plumbing, flaming, mechanical problems and fire code violations. Hikel said he told the builder the city would not grant any additional construction permits until work on the Hartigs’ residence was completed. “I shut him down,” Hikel said. J. Pearce Construction owner Johnny Pearce responded to the Hartigs’ complaints by saying he was not aware of all the problems. “I can’t correct things I don’t know about,” Pearce said. The city lifted the ban on building per-yourself at home ROBIN CORNETT/HeraM-Zeftung Amy Hartig (center) holds son Presley in front of her Hueco Drive home. The house was declared uninhabitable by city building inspectors before Hartig and her husband, James, moved in last year. Hartig s neighbors, including Albert and Maricella Jaimes (left) with daughters Amanda, 9, and Samanntha, 12, and Jackie and Jamie Morin (right) with son Reggie, 8, also found defects in their homes. All three homes are in the Canyon Heights subdivision. mits to J. Pearce Construction after the company complied with Hikel’s instruction. “He (Pearce) was very cooperative,” Hikel said. Some of the problems homebuyers complained about were not a builder’s responsibility, Pearce said. Like many builders, Pearce said his company often hired subcontractors to perform much of the work on home building jobs. The price of a house typically reflected the quality of materials used by subcontractors during construction, he said. “They need to realize they didn’t buy a $200,000 house. They bought an $80,000 house,” Pearce said. City building inspectors and officials said consumers, builders and mortgage title owners were caught up in the current population growth in New Braunfels. Real estate professionals said the current market did not protect homebuyers. “The way the real estate transaction takes place today is not in die best interest of the consumer,” said Gary Hallmark, marketing director of South Central Pacific Mortgage. The city of New Braunfels employs two building inspectors and one official who perform more than 900 inspections per month. A failed building inspection does not guarantee a house will remain vacant. “We lose track of them because we’re not standing over them,” Hikel said. Real estate attorneys and licensed inspectors should be hired by consumers to inspect houses before any money changes hands, some real estate professionals said. “It’s important that the buyers get an inspection of their property from a third party,” said Braun-Tex Realty owner S.D. David. Consumers also can check the credentials of a builder by contacting the city planning department at 608-2IOO. “The key to this is for them (consumers) to check who their builder is,” said Jerome Gentry, a mortgage loan officer for First Commercial Bank. A current city ordinance allows officials to take builders to municipal court and f me them up to $500 per day for substandard building conditions. City building See HOME/BA ;