By Jesse Wood
The N.C. Department of Air Quality (DAQ) approved Maymead’s air quality permit on Aug. 5 for its proposed asphalt plant on U.S. 421 in between Boone and Deep Gap, according to documents from the DAQ.
Currently, Maymead Materials, Inc. – 421 Recycling Yard is a non-metallic plant crushing and recycling construction debris, including concrete and recycled asphalt pavement. This aspect of the business will become a secondary operation once the hot mix asphalt production plant comes online according to the permit.
Maymead plans to add a drum mix, hot mix asphalt plant with 325 tons per hour maximum rated capacity. The facility is limited to producing no more than 300,000 tons of asphalt per to ensure compliance with emissions regulations by the DAQ. See attached graphs for projected emissions.
Maymead Inc. bought an asphalt plant permit for the 5251 U.S. 421 site from Johnny Hampton, which secured the permit from Watauga County unknown to the public in 2011 for potential use at JW Hampton Co. Last year, Roark said that the plant near Deep Gap would provide asphalt for the U.S. 221 widening project from Jefferson to Deep Gap.
The lease agreement between Roark and Johnny and Joan Hampton, which began on Jan. 13, 2015, has an initial term of eight years with a five-year option to renew. Roark is leasing the 4.341-acre property from the Hamptons for $6,000 per year during the initial eight years, according to the contract. The contract also includes Roark’s right of first refusal to purchase 104+ acres in and around the site. The 104 acres includes 22 acres owned by the Hamptons, which also includes the 4.341-acre site, and 82 more acres of land owned by adjacent property owners, including Gateway Crew, LLC and Summer Tract, LLC.
But in June 2015, Watauga County Planning Director revoked the permit and deemed it expired and nontransferable. Furman said that “no appreciable progress” toward the implementation of the asphalt plant had occurred in the four years since the original permit was issued.
After an uproar from members of the community, the Watauga County Board of Commissioners, which have a 3-2 GOP majority, then enacted a brief moratorium to study high impact land uses. They now require nearby property owners to be notified of a proposed high impact land use next door. Other 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.
Citing vested rights, Maymead Inc. appealed Furman’s decision to the Watauga County Board of Adjustment, which in February overturned the permit revocation. The GOP majority of the Watauga County Board of Commissioners declined to appeal. But Watauga County citizens, Carolyn and Randall Henion, who are the closest residents to the proposed site on U.S. 421, according to court records, personally appealed to Watauga County Superior Court in April. A Watauga County Superior Court date has been set for Nov. 14.
High Country W.A.T.C.H., a local group that formed in opposition to the asphalt plant, emailed its supporters about not being “encouraged” with the air permit being approved:
“We are disappointed that DAQ would issue an air permit for a location covered by a disputed Watauga County High Impact Land Use (HILU) permit issued many years ago to another individual. The legality of Johnny Hampton’s 2011 Watauga County HILU permit – revoked in 2015 by the Watauga County planner for lack of progress – has been appealed to Superior Court by a local family.
See the permit docs below and graphs regarding emissions:
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