Recycling center with list of citations feels pressure from city, residents

Ascent Recycling is being taken to court again over several unfixed violations

By Courtney Friedman - VJ, Reporter

A recycling center on the East Side with a long list of citations is making nearby residents miserable. The city is cracking down on the company once again, giving them one last chance to stay open.

Antonia Aldaco, 84, has lived in her home on Seguin Street for 60 years.

"When you come in, just all this dust. I can't even open my doors," Aldaco said, showing dirt swept all through her house.

About six months ago, Ascent Recycling moved into the industrial property next door and since then, Aldaco has grown furious. First, she noticed the dust.

"Especially when the trucks are coming out, you can see like a cloud," she said.

Aldaco's car, her gate, the chair and swing right outside her front door, are all covered in dust. She said it has only been happening since the center opened in January.

Aldaco is also upset about the trash flying all the way to I-35.

"All over the street, and I mean big papers, boxes and everything. It stinks sometimes," she said.

"The other violations are rodents, rats. In the middle of the night, we have rats come across the street," said Rose Hill, Government Hill Neighborhood Association president. "These are senior people. They need help. This is not the quality of life we want people to have."

These are all very familiar issues to Michael Shannon, assistant director of the city's Development Services Department. He said his code compliance team has been following the company for a while now.  

"The recycling plant used to be at a location on South Cross Boulevard. They had some code violations to the extent that we had to shut them down. They weren't zoned properly. They weren't following city rules," Shannon said.

Ascent moved to Seguin Street to an industrial zoned property where they could legally recycle cardboard.

"When we talked to them about moving to this other location on Seguin Street, we told them they could do their cardboard recycling but don't do metal recycling," Shannon said. "They understood that. We gave it to them in writing, and they still violated that."

Inspection documents pulled through an open records request show Ascent Recycling started illegally recycling metal in January and February.

"The metal violations were already handled through the court process. We had 15 citations issued just for that violation. That landed on $3,000 that they've been fined already for that. But they've cleaned that up, stopped doing that," Shannon said, confirming they have not been recycling metal at least since an April inspection.

Now, Shannon is focused on the other citations.

"Some trash and debris, overgrown weeds, vegetation, some dust and parking lot standards that they're not complying with," he explained. "We go out almost weekly now to keep them honest."

He said trimming the weeds and controlling the trash should keep the rats away. There is also a way to deal with all the dust.

"Generally, they do that by paving the areas that are heavily trafficked. So, that's where we have them under notice now. They're not meeting some of the parking lot standards," Shannon said.

The city will take Ascent Recycling to court in August over those violations. If the owners still don't comply after that, they'll be shut down.

"The neighborhood association supports all businesses, but when you have a business come in like this, that's not willing to work with the residents and is making their quality of these elderly people's lives miserable, we're not okay with that," Hill said.

KSAT 12 made several attempts to contact the owner of the company but has not received a call back. If he does eventually make a comment, we will update the story. 

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