GOP Commissioners Elect Not To Appeal Decision To Allow Asphalt Plant in Deep Gap

Published Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at 2:21 pm

By Jesse Wood

Following the closed session portion of the Watauga County Board of Commissioners meeting on Tuesday, the board voted 3-2 not to appeal Watauga County Board of Adjustment’s decision to allow Maymead to build an asphalt plant on U.S. 421, according to board clerk Anita Fogle.

Coming out of closed session, Commissioner Billy Kennedy, a Democrat, motioned to appeal the decision and Commissioner John Welch, a Democrat, seconded that motion. However, the three Republicans, Jimmy Hodges, Perry Yates and David Blust voted against the motion to appeal the adjustment board’s decision.

High Country W.A.T.C.H. called this development “bad news for Watauga” immediately following the decision on Tuesday. High Country W.A.T.C.H. formed last year in opposition to the proposed asphalt plant and was an intervening party in the appeal to the Watauga County Board of Adjustment.

In 2011, J.W. Hampton Co. acquired an asphalt plant permit from the Watauga County Planning and Inspections department – unaware to the public. In January 2015, Maymead began leasing 4.3 acres from Johnny and John Hampton for a potential 13 years with a right of first refusal to purchase 104 acres in and around the site. Maymead also sought to purchase the asphalt plant permit from the Hamptons.

The Watauga County Planning & Inspections department, however, revoked that permit during the summer after protests from the public, citing four years of no “appreciable progress,” among other factors.

Hampton and Maymead then appealed successfully to the Watauga County Board of Adjustment.

In early March, the N.C. Division of Air Quality held a public hearing to listen to comments from the public regarding the proposed asphalt plant. See a video of that hearing with comments from both sides here. 

While the DAQ has no zoning authority and cannot regulate where an asphalt plant can be erected, it is required by law to review air permits for compliance with air quality and emissions regulations.

DAQ spokesperson Tom Mather said a decision from the DAQ hasn’t yet been decided.

“I would expect a decision some time this month,” Mather said on Monday.

For more background, click here.

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