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Commissioners To Discuss Options After Asphalt Plant Permit Revocation Reversed

By Jesse Wood

The Watauga County Board of Commissioners will discuss the decision by the Watauga County Board of Adjustment to overturn the revocation of an asphalt plant permit for Maymead Inc. located off of U.S. 421 in Deep Gap.

Last summer, Maymead Inc. sought to receive ownership of an asphalt plant permit that J.W. Hampton Co. acquired in 2011 on land that Maymead also began leasing from the Hampton family. The Watauga County Planning & Inspections department, however, revoked that permit after four years of no “appreciable progress.”

Maymead appealed to the adjustment board, citing vested rights, and that board decided in Hampton’s and the asphalt company’s favor over the county and intervening citizens. The appeal lasted more than 50 hours over several sessions in the past few months and concluded on Wednesday. More on that decision here.

Commissioner John Welch said that he attended a couple of the appeal sessions and asked for the issue to be put on the agenda for the commissioners’ Tuesday meeting.

“Well, I was a little surprised,” Welch said of the decision to revoke the permit.

“Our folks, county residents are concerned by it, so I think at the very least we should have an agenda item and discuss what options still remain,” Welch added.

Chair Jimmy Hodges didn’t respond to a message requesting comment on Friday.

County Manager Deron Geouque said that either the Watauga County Board of Commissioners or the intervening party of citizens can appeal the decision to Watauga County Superior Court.

They have 30 days from the time that the adjustment board’s written decision is filed to decide whether or not to appeal to the Watauga County Superior Court.

High Country W.A.T.C.H., a group formed in opposition to the asphalt plant, is encouraging concerned citizens to contact the commissioners and urge them to file an appeal. The group is against an asphalt plant because of health, quality of life and property value concerns.

The group says it’s thousands of dollars in debt from hiring legal representation to fight the asphalt plant proposals over the past several months. It is accepting donations to continue this fight.

Meanwhile, Hampton and Maymead said they have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on this asphalt plant project, which the county argued otherwise during the appeal hearings. 

Following the revocation of the permit and protests from the public last year, the Watauga County Board of Commissioners amended the county’s High Impact Land Use Ordinance, which regulates asphalt plants and other polluting land uses.

Changes included adopting a 750-foot buffer between a category of uses that includes asphalt plants and residential property lines and 1,500-foot buffer between a scenic byway and the category of uses that includes asphalt plants.

The location of Maymead’s proposed asphalt plant is situated just off of U.S. 421, which is a designated scenic byway known as the Doc and Merle Watson Scenic Byway near Deep Gap.

These recent changes to the ordinance, however, won’t prevent Maymead from moving in that location if the Watuaga County Board of Adjustment decision is upheld.