Release from High Country W.A.T.C.H.
The all-volunteer members of High Country WATCH are extremely disappointed to learn that Superior Court Judge John O. Craig has ruled against Randall and Carolyn Henion in their appeal to uphold Watauga County’s revocation of Johnny Hampton’s 2011 High Impact Land Use (HILU) permit being used by Maymead to place an asphalt plant on the 421 Scenic Byway in Watauga County.
High Country WATCH is especially disappointed that the Superior Court failed to even address the Henion’s major legal arguments – namely, that neither JW Hampton Company nor Maymead are, as a matter of law, entitled to common law vested rights in Johnny Hampton’s HILU Permit.
High Country WATCH believes the Superior Court’s ruling contains fundamental legal errors and that the ruling should be appealed to the North Carolina Court of Appeals. The errors warranting an appeal, include, but are not limited to:
The Superior Court’s Order finds facts that were not found by the Watauga County Board of Adjustment (BOA) in its ruling. In a proceeding of this nature, the Superior Court sits in an appellate capacity, not as the trier of fact, and as such, the Superior Court may not make additional factual findings not found by the BOA.
The Superior Court’s Order judges the propriety of the BOA action on grounds other than those invoked by the board; stated differently, Judge Craig impermissibly substituted his own legal justification(s) for that of the BOA in order to affirm the BOA decision. We do not understand why Judge Craig decided to rely on legal theory NOT relied on by the BOA in his ruling when such is plainly improper.
In fact, a recent decision of the N.C. Court of Appeals, Thompson v. Town of White Lake, No. COA16-104, reversed a Superior Court for doing exactly the same things – only adding to a long line of North Carolina legal precedent which holds that it is reversible error for a Superior Court to do the above things in a case of this nature.
High Country W.A.T.C.H. urges the Watauga County Commissioners to do the right thing for the county and appeal the case to the next level. The county deserves to know our elected officials have done everything legally possible to protect local families and the 421 Scenic Byway from the development of an asphalt plant using a permit the county had revoked for lack of progress.
High Country W.A.T.C.H. also urges everyone to help the Henions by contributing to the legal expenses for the appeal: https://www.gofundme.com/stopdeepgapasphalt
About High Country WATCH: High Country WATCH (Wataugans Against Toxins Close to Home) was formed by a group of concerned Watauga County residents who are actively advocating for responsible economic development in Watauga County. High Country WATCH, a non-partisan, non-profit chapter of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL), is composed entirely of volunteers.
Find out more about High Country WATCH at its website: www.highcountrywatch.com. Follow High Country WATCH on Facebook and on Twitter: @H_C_WATCH.