KGNS On Your Side: A five-year battle over industrial land reignites

Published: Aug. 11, 2023 at 11:47 AM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - A five-year battle over a piece of property off Mines Road is re-ignited after dirt turned on the raw land this summer.

“We just realized all of a sudden there [were] trucks, there was construction,” said Alonso Martinez, Vice President of the La Bota Homeowners Association. “They tell us they were building some kind of sewage.”

On July 25th, a gas line was hit at a construction site on the southern half of A.F. Muller Boulevard.

Muller Blvd. is a stretch of road off Mines that includes the subdivision of La Bota, Muller Elementary School, and an industrial plat that could one day include a warehouse.

The plat is owned by Gubagreen Industrial, LLC and they’re currently in the process of installing utilities.

According to Gubagreen owner, Richard Kahn, his subcontractors were under the impression that the gas line was at least two feet below -- not a few inches.

“The gas that is feeding La Bota is actually running through my property without a legal easement,” said Kahn.

The incident left the community of La Bota with no gas for roughly a day and a half.

“It was a good thing it wasn’t an explosion, but we were out of gas,” said Martinez.

A citation was handed down to the developer by the City of Laredo.

“When the line was hit, it’s my understanding that the company was contacted, and then [the company] informed [the city] that they were actually not the ones doing the excavating,” said Vanessa Perez, Mayor Pro-Temp for the City of Laredo and District 7 Councilmember. “That’s where we kind of figured that somebody was digging without a permit.”

According to Kahn, the citation had to do with the permitted contract not being on-site and it was resolved quickly. However, Kahn felt it was just the latest example of the retaliation he’s received since taking over the property.

For the residents of La Bota, there’s a fear that what lies ahead may create an even more dire situation since Muller Blvd. already services a residential area and elementary school.

“My concerns are mostly for the children,” said Tom LaFleur, Secretary of the La Bota Homeowners Association. “By putting a warehouse here you’re going to be creating an unsafe environment for the kids, and it’s going to create traffic problems, terrible traffic problems.”

According to Kahn, there is a contract to purchase the property but he hasn’t sold the property yet.

Kahn is aware of the concerns of residents and tells KGNS he’s tried to work out a comprised with all parties involved.

“I’ve been working for four or five years to try to come up with a mutual solution and nobody wanted to even deal with me or talk to me,” said Kahn.

Kahn has offered up options to entities like the City of Laredo; options like a land swap or the development of a new roadway that would solve the traffic concerns.

“If the city would just reconsider getting access to the industrial park then all of the truck drivers’ traffic will go through the industrial park and would never even show up on Muller Blvd.,” Kahn added.

Kahn disagrees with the notion that he should leave the land empty.

“To just want me to abandon a multi-million dollar property project just because they don’t want it there that’s just not right, it’s not just, it’s not feasible for me,” said Kahn.

All parties involved could soon come to some sort of agreement after the United ISD Board of Trustees approved a resolution in which they’d have the City of Laredo, La Bota Homeowner Association groups, and Gubagreen come to the table to discuss a solution.

“[To] start a conversation for the health and safety of our children,” said Michelle Molina, UISD Board Trustee.

There’s hope that this five-year battle could come to an end.

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