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New Proposed Asphalt Plant Along Rainbow Trail Road Near Hardin Park, ASU Lake

This is the vicinity of where Radford Quarries owns property.
This is the vicinity of where Radford Quarries owns property.

By Jesse Wood

Radford Quarries submitted an application on June 15 for an asphalt plant on land it acquired in 2013 off of Rainbow Trail Road.

Watauga County Planning Director Joe Furman announced that he received the application recently at the public hearing on Tuesday, where about 200 or so people spoke out against another proposed asphalt plant along U.S. 421 in Deep Gap.

According to the application, the “amount of land disturbance” would cover 2.21 acres if a grading permit for the proposed plant were to be approved. The permit also states that setbacks include 185 feet in the front and 100 feet in the left, right and rear of the proposed plant.

Highlighted in red is the property that Radford Quarries owns.
Highlighted in red is the property that Radford Quarries owns.

Radford Properties Inc. purchased 8.5 acres from Sandra Reich for $42,500 in November 2013, according to a search in the Watauga County Register of Deeds.

When this was announced last night at the public hearing, folks attending began to murmur that Rainbow Trail Road is near Hardin Park, which is the largest elementary school in the county, and the ASU Lake.

Looking at Google maps, the property owned by Radford Quarries and the property that the Watauga County Board of Education owns for Hardin Park is well within a mile distance as the crow flies – and about 1.4 miles drive along Rainbow Trail Road and N.C. 194 to the school. It’s also fairly close to the Watauga County Board of Education offices on the other side of N.C. 194.

In addition to the numerous residents in the area, the location of the proposed plant is also in the vicinity of ASU Lake, which is fed from Norris Branch and supplies the entire campus with water.

The 17-acre lake is touted as one of the most pristine bodies of water in the state.

Radford Quarries operates a quarry off of Bamboo Road, which is the Sunny Knoll Acres neighborhood within the ETJ. Last year when Sen. Dan Soucek sponsored legislation to abolish the ETJ, Boone Planning Director Bill Bailey noted that residents were complaining about Radford Quarries because it had expanded beyond their permit and obliterated the buffer between the neighborhood and quarry. Bailey said that he had contacted the state department that enforces quarries regarding the violations.

WCS spokesman Marshall Ashcraft reached out to WCS Supt. David Elliott, who said that while he was aware of these developments, it’s too early to provide comment or a statement. Hank Foreman, a spokesman for ASU, said the nearly the same thing.

Radford Quarries  didn’t return a request for comment on Wednesday. This article will be updated when and if they do.

Furman said that Radford Quarries still has to obtain several permits from the county and state before it can proceed with building and operating the plant.

With Maymead currently operating an asphalt plant on N.C. 105 in Boone and with two new applications for new asphalt plants in the works, Watauga County could potentially have a total of three asphalt plants in the near future.