Superior Court Judge Indicates Upholding Board’s Decision Allowing Asphalt Plant

Published Wednesday, December 14, 2016 at 2:55 pm

By Jesse Wood

A Superior Court judge upheld the Watauga County Board of Adjustment’s ruling to overturn the Watauga County Planning Department’s decision to revoke an asphalt plant permit, according to High Country W.A.T.C.H., a group that formed in opposition to Maymead’s proposed plant in Deep Gap.

“Though we have no official word, the judge’s comments to our lawyers indicate that he will uphold the BOA’s decision in this case. More details will follow as soon as we have an official Order from the court,” Carolyn Henion, owner of the closest residence to the site of the proposed plant, wrote on the group’s Facebook page.

Randall and Carolyn Henion appealed to Superior Court in April after the GOP majority of the Watauga County Board of Commissioners declined to appeal the BOA’s decision. The Watauga County Commission is now controlled by Democrats after the November election.

Citing vested rights, Maymead Inc. appealed Watauga County Planning Director Joe Furman’s decision to the Watauga County Board of Adjustment, which in February overturned the permit revocation. In August, the Division of Air Quality approved Maymead’s permit, which will allow the company to produce up to 300,000 tons of asphalt. Maymead owner Wiley Roark previously said that the plant was needed to produce asphalt for the U.S. 221 widening  project primarily in Ashe County. 

On Wednesday morning, Democrat Commissioner Billy Kennedy said he is waiting on a final written court decision before figuring out potential moves going forward.

“We are still waiting on a final written decision and we’ll discuss it at that point,” Kennedy said. “We do have different legal counsel now, so they may have a different opinion, too. We’ll listen to that as well.”

After the Democrats took control of the Watauga County Commission, the first order of business was to relieve Eggers Law Firm of its duties as county attorney and hire Di Santi, Watson, Capua, Wilson and Garrett to represent the county.

Asked about his stance on this particular proposed asphalt plant, Kennedy noted, “I do believe [the Deep Gap asphalt plant] is not going to help the county … It’s a question of whether we support Joe Furman or the Board of Adjustment’s decision.”

It’s unclear when Superior Court Judge John O. Craig III’s decision will be drafted. 

Jamie Whitlock, an attorney representing the Henions, didn’t return a message on Wednesday and neither did Maymead owner Wiley Roark.

For more background about this issue, click here to read many related stories.

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