HC Watch Urge Commissioners To Appeal Maymead’s Proposed Asphalt Plant

Published Monday, April 4, 2016 at 2:07 pm

Sometime in the next three weeks, Watauga County Commissioners will meet to determine whether or not to appeal a recent Board of Adjustments (BOA) ruling that overturned the county’s decision to revoke a 2011 High Impact Land Use (HILU) permit for lack of progress.

This discussion could happen as soon as the next Commissioners meeting this Tuesday, April 5 at 8:30 a.m. at the County building on King Street.

High Country WATCH (Wataugans Against Toxins Close to Home) urges Watauga County residents to provide public comment at the April 5 meeting. We also encourage people to write to the Commissioners to ask them to appeal the BOA ruling to Superior Court.

High Country WATCH has enlisted the expertise of the lawyers at Davis & Whitlock, environmental lawyers based in Asheville. After reviewing the available records, the attorneys recommend that the county appeal this case to Superior Court. The legal reasons for appeal have been communicated to the Watauga County Commissioners for their consideration.

 

The BOA’s ruling, if allowed to stand, gives Maymead, an out-of-state company, the right to use a Watauga Count HILU permit issued in 2011 to Johnny Hampton to build a new asphalt plant on the 421 Scenic Byway, in very close proximity to many homes, Two Rivers and Parkway schools, the New River and the Blue Ridge Parkway. If the Commissioners do not appeal, this asphalt plant, which will emit more than 100 tons of toxins each year, according to Maymead’s DAQ air permit, could be providing asphalt for an Ashe County DOT project by June.

The BOA ruling is problematic for a number of reasons, including:

  • The BOA’s ruling in favor of Maymead – made after a 15-minute period of deliberation – is not factually supported by the evidence presented at the hearing.
  • There was no evidence presented at the hearing that showed “significant investment” and “significant progress” in the development of an asphalt plant in the years since the permit was issued in 2011. Evidence presented instead showed investment in the existing crusher, recycling and grading businesses located at that site.
  • Though Mr. Four Eggers advised the members of the BOA to consider all the facts of the case, the BOA instead focused their deliberations solely on Maymead’s proposed findings of facts and conclusions of law. The Board failed to examine any of the arguments put forth by the county.
  • The lack of deliberations and failure to look at the county’s evidence and proposed findings of facts are indicative of an arbitrary and capricious decision from the BOA, a reason to appeal this case to Superior Court.
  • The case was very long and the evidence presented was complicated, confusing and contradictory. The five members of the Board of Adjustments deliberated just 15 minutes before approving an order written by Maymead’s attorney. One board member, Todd Rice, inexplicably decided to abstain from ruling all together.

 

“Through the generosity of the community, we were able to seek out legal advice on this important issue,” said Susie Winters, a volunteer with High Country WATCH. “It’s clear that the Board’s decision to overturn the county has too many legal questions surrounding it. We feel strongly that the evidence presented in this case needs to be heard in a court of law. That’s why we are urging the citizens of the county to let the Commissioners know they need to appeal this case to Superior Court.”

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. You can find out more about High Country WATCH at its website: www.highcountrywatch.com.

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