By Jesse Wood
North Carolina’s Division of Air Quality Director Sheila Holman has put Maymead’s permit application for its proposed asphalt plant on U.S. 421 on hold due to violations at its Boone asphalt plant on N.C. 105.
Holman notified Maymead President Wiley Roark of the air quality permit status in a letter dated May 31, which High Country Press obtained earlier this week. She noted that this “issue of compliance” of various Maymead operations in the state was raised at the public hearing on March 3.
She stated that while Maymead Materials “operations appear to be operating in compliance with their air quality permit requirements,” inspectors with the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources found three violations during a recent inspection of its asphalt plant on N.C. 105 in Boone and issued violation notices on May 27. The facility was inspected on May 26.
“Therefore, I am placing your permit application on hold until the deficiencies identified by DEMLR have been resolved. This hold includes the May 27, 2016 (notice of violations) above as well as any pending deficiencies documented in recent DEMLR inspections,” Holman wrote.
In the notice of violations dated May 27, which High Country Press also obtained in a records request, DEMLR Regional Engineer Matt Gantt said that the same team of inspectors had previously conducted an inspection most recently on Oct. 22, 2015 and “agreed to give Maymead, Inc. additional time to correct violations/deficiencies prior to initiating further action.”
Gantt noted that the N.C. 105 facility is covered under General Permit No. NCG 160141, which allows the discharge of stormwater point source discharges associated with activities classified as Asphalt Paving Mixtures to the surface waters of North Carolina.
The three violations found and required response are as follows:
Gantt noted that DEMLR requires the violations to be “abated immediately and properly resolved” by Maymead.
“Environmental damage and/or failure to secure proper authorizations have been documented on the subject tract as stated above,” Gantt wrote. “Your efforts to undertake activities to bring the subject site back into compliance is not an admission, rather it is an action that must be taken in order to begin to resolve ongoing environmental issues.”
According to N.C. General Statutes, the violations are subject to a fine of up to $25,000 per day for each violation.
“Your above mentioned response to this correspondence, the degree and extent of harm to the environment and the duration and gravity of the violation(s) will be considered in any civil penalty assessment process that may occur,” Gantt wrote.
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.
View documents recently obtained from DAQ & DEMLR:
05312016 Holman to Roark re Maymead Permit Application
For more stories on this issue in the past year, click here.
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