San Marcos neighbors fed up with nearby property being used as dump site
SAN MARCOS, Texas - It’s a dream home - built by her father - on the San Marcos property Krista Pepau grew up on. As a child, she would run the property line to go up and play with the neighbor kids that lived there at the time.
Now, across that same property line, Pepau showed us a very different scene - piles of junk overtaking the property. They first noticed it in early 2022.
"We regularly walk our property line just to make sure it's clear and that there aren't any issues, and we found that the neighbors directly behind me had encroached by over 100 feet and stolen cedar posts that they could sell for money," said Pepau. "They cleared a path where we could see the dump that was located behind us that we had no idea about."
They were able to fly over the property and capture aerial photos that showed much of it covered in trash piles.
"We've seen posts on the neighborhood pages where they ask, ‘Does anybody need junk removal or household waste removal?’" said Pepau. "So what they're doing is they're picking it up, and they're telling them, I guess, that they'll take it to the dump, but they take it to their property so that they don't have to waste money at a dump."
For the neighbors, it’s more than just a visual nuisance.
"They're burning plastics, furniture, big plastic bags full of trash, and it’s toxic, it's enough that when you're outside, it burns your nose, it burns your lungs, your eyes start watering and burning," said Pepau. "Neighbors are complaining that they have coughs that have been consistent for months now."
The concerns also go beneath the surface. Pepau’s property - and surrounding properties - sit on the recharge zone for the Edwards Aquifer.
"It feeds all the rainwater that falls in this area directly to the springs and down to the aquifer," said Dianne Wassenich, former executive director of the San Marcos River Foundation. "There is very rapid transmission underground because it has honeycombed rock, and every once in a while, there's a fracture in the rock and that opens up what is called a conduit, where water will flow in greater speed and with greater quantity."
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Pepau showed us one of those spots on her property.
"And it all heads to the Spring Lake at the head of the San Marcos River," said Wassenich. "And that's where the city has wells, and a lot of people have wells along the way."
Pepau is one of the residents with a well. Another resident FOX 7 Austin spoke to is concerned about the fumes affecting her only water source, rainwater on the roof of her home.
"Of course, our main concern is how it is impacting the environment in so many ways, but on a personal note, we have smelled the chemicals burning from our house, and we are concerned that the chemicals are landing on our roof," said Angie Carpenter. "Any burning of hazardous chemicals can have a severe impact on our health and the health of our neighbors who rely on the same kind of water supply."
The Hays County Development Services Department confirmed that they issued a citation to the property behind Pepau's on Jan. 5 for a Texas Health and Safety Code violation.
County records show the property residents were also cited multiple times in January for "nuisance" and "unrestrained dog" charges. Pepau noted one of her cats was once attacked by a loose dog belonging to the residents next door.
"They are giving citations, but we're not seeing much action," said Wassenich. "It's got to stop, and then somebody needs to get out there and assess what is there and figure out how to dispose of it properly."
The Hays County Sheriff’s Office confirmed a detective has been assigned to a case involving the residents of the property.
Hays County Development Services shared the below statement with FOX 7:
"The Hays County Development Services Department received a complaint about a public nuisance on the property located at 400 Boulder Bluff in San Marcos, Texas. As part of the investigation process, staff conducted site visits and issued proper notice to inform the residents and owner of the property of their potential violation. On Jan. 5, 2023, Development Services staff issued a citation to the property for a Texas Health and Safety Code violation. Our department is tied to the process and procedures outlined in the health and safety code relating to enforcement and possible penalties for nuisance violations. At this time, this is an ongoing investigation in conjunction with other agencies. All involved are working towards resolving the matter."