Dallas judge orders city to improve storm debris operation after complaints from nearby college

A Dallas district court judge granted a technical college’s temporary restraining order request against the city of Dallas.

The order requires the city to do a better job keeping water in its storm debris mulch operation.

The temporary operation is located at I-635 and Greenville Avenue in the Lake Highlands area. A Dallas technical college for veterans is next to the massive debris site.

The college’s CEO requested a temporary restraining order, complaining that the fine wood particles flying from the mulching machine clogged three of its large HVAC units. 

The massive May 28th windstorm across North Texas resulted in a massive cleanup operation. 

It’s one that Nick Hallack, president and CEO of Medisend College of Biomedical Engineering Technology, says is also creating an enormous mess for his school and students.

"They basically put us to a stop," he said.

Tuesday, Hallack showed FOX 4 the fine wood particles on the school's roof that’s adjacent to a large storm debris mulching site. 

At a court hearing Wednesday afternoon, an attorney for the city of Dallas admitted the college was impacted in the beginning. 

"Once we were made aware, we tried to mitigate that," said city attorney Stacy Rodriguez.

Rodriguez says the city moved the mulching further from the school, built up a wall of dried vegetation to serve as a barrier and started to monitor the wind. 

"And we shut down grinding operations when the wind is more than 20 miles per hour and are constantly monitoring the wind," she said.

But Hallack's attorney alleged the city is still not following regulations that require the mulch to be properly watered. 

Rodriguez argued the city is complying with the temporary permit provided by state regulators.

"The city has tried watering the grind machine as it shoots out mulched material," she said. "What we found is that watering gummed up the grinding machine, and we had to keep stopping and clearing it out."

"Judge, I guess I'm confused," Hallack’s attorney said. "Because you have material in a pile, you are watering it down, and that doesn't clog the machine. But watering it as it exits does? I don't know if I understand the logic of that."

Rodriguez explained a contractor is running the mulching operation for the city.

"I asked if they have a machine that has a fog nozzle on it. They don't. And we don't own one," she said. "We are looking into if there is something else we can do.

The judge granted the temporary restraining order but explained that it’s not halting the operation.

"I’m going to grant the TRO because I don't see the harm to the city. I see the urgency, the public health. Just driving around, I see big piles sitting around. It's a fire hazard. Everyone knows that," the judge said. "This is not stopping those operations. It is simply saying the city needs to work on better dust control."

Another hearing in the case is set for July 22.

The lawsuit alleges the cost to replace the damaged equipment and the lost revenue from the AC being down would be in excess of $1 million.