Nixon’s location at the intersection of U.S. Route 87 and Texas State Highway 80 makes for a high volume of tractor-trailer traffic within city limits. While some in the area may see economic benefit to the traffic, others are frustrated with pollutants the trucks bring and a perceived inaction by the city to address their concerns.
“The fumes, dust and noise are real bad,” Nixon resident Darleen Ostwald said in reference to tractor-trailer traffic at Stripes 2486 at 210 E. Central Ave.
The Stripes location in specific has drawn complaints from a section of the community due to its proximity to residential housing. Perhaps the most vocal of critics on the issue is Nixon resident Hal Henry. The gas station and convenience store feature a tractor-trailer accessible gravel lot across the street from Henry’s residence.
Despite multiple signs placed by Stripes in the lot declaring “no idling” in capitalized red font, Henry alleges there are trucks doing just that and it is having serious effects on his health.
“If it’s not the trucks idling, then it’s trucks at the diesel fuel island. In and out all day and all night, there is never a quiet time. This was no location for a so-called truck stop,” Henry said. “My health issues consist of abnormally high blood pressure, accelerated heart rate, constant postnasal drip, nose bleeds, compromised vision from the dust and diesel fumes, fatigue and memory loss.”
Henry provided The Inquirer with several pictures and videos showing apparently idle tractor-trailers in the Stripes lot at all times of the day and night. The pictures and videos are dated from 2017 to 2019.
Since 2017, Henry has filed complaints about the truck stop with local, county and state agencies and authorities. In March 2018, Nixon City Council adopted a Heavy Truck Idling Ordinance that limits “heavy-duty motor vehicle idling to five consecutive minutes within the public areas of the City of Nixon, Texas and its extra-territorial jurisdiction.” There are exemptions to the ordinance that permit law enforcement vehicles as well as tractor-trailers that require a “primary propulsion engine” to power work-related mechanical or electrical operations other than propulsion.
However, enforcement of the ordinance has been complicated due to findings from the Texas Commission on Environment Quality (TCEQ.) In the past two years, TCEQ has performed 10 investigations relating to odor and/or soot at the Stripes location. According to Andrew Keese, TCEQ Media Relations Specialist, “TCEQ has been unable to confirm nuisance conditions during these investigations.”
Per state administrative code, nuisance conditions are invoked when a person discharges “from any source whatsoever one or more air contaminants or combinations thereof, in such concentration and of such duration as are or may tend to be injurious to or to adversely affect human health or welfare, animal life, vegetation, or property, or as to interfere with the normal use and enjoyment of animal life, vegetation, or property.”
“There’s been no reportable law that’s been violated,” Nixon City Attorney Eddie Escobar said, explaining the city’s position. Escobar further explained the city is attempting to balance competing interests between its businesses and citizenry. Escobar further clarified that ultimately code enforcement is left to law enforcement’s discretion.
Nixon police chief Chris Aviles said no citations from the idling truck ordinances have been written since he ascended to the chief position in April. Though the city claim its only heard complaints on the location from Henry, TCEQ said it has received grievances from three citizens on the Stripes location.
Former Nixon Alderman Doug Koenig is another resident affected by the Stripes.
“It’s not getting any better and we’re not getting any help,” Koenig said. Koenig said there are a lot of elderly people that live in the area and complain about the fumes.
The Inquirer was unable to receive a comment from Stripes 2486 prior to print deadline.