By Jesse Wood
Michael Abraczinskas, deputy director of the Division of Air Quality with the N.C. Department of Environmental and Natural Resources, has decided to hold a public hearing regarding Maymead’s draft permit for an asphalt plant off of U.S. 421 in Deep Gap.
On Monday, Tom Mather, a spokesperson with the Division of Air Quality said that while the department isn’t required to hold a public hearing the decision was made because of the “level of public interest.” The date of the hearing hasn’t been set yet.
Once the community found out that Maymead was attempting to build a second asphalt plant in Boone to assist the U.S. 221 widening project, the majority of which is based in Ashe County, concerned citizens formed High Country WATCH in an attempt to stop the project.
Mather said that once the application is reviewed and deemed complete, the Division of Air Quality will follow these steps before denying or approving the permit:
- Conduct and/or review air quality modeling for estimated emissions from the facility.
- Prepare a draft (or proposed) air permit that specifies that types of air pollution controls, production rates, fuels and other factors to ensure that the facility would not violate air quality standards.
- Publish a public notice on the DAQ website (Events Calendar) along with the draft permit at http://www.ncair.org/calendar/
- Allow 30 days for public review and comments on the draft permit, unless the DAQ Director decides to schedule a public hearing, which would extend the comment period.
- If a hearing is held, the hearing officer would prepare a report with recommendations for the director.
- The DAQ director would then make a final decision on whether to issue the permit as proposed in the draft, issue a permit with modifications, or deny the permit.
High Country WATCH has voiced concerns that the asphalt plant would deteriorate the quality of life in the area and will be too close to local schools, churches, and the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Mather said that Division of Air Quality permitting process is to ensure that facilities do not violate state and federal air quality standards.
“DAQ has no authority over the location of facilities, truck traffic, noise, proximity to schools or neighborhoods, and other land use issues. If citizen are concerned about zoning or land-use issues, they should contact local government officials,” Mather said in an email.
High Country WATCH plans to attend the Watauga County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday afternoon to provide public comment on proposed amendments to an ordinance that regulates asphalt plants.