By Jesse Wood
On Tuesday morning, Watauga County Attorney Anthony DiSanti gave the commissioners an update on the old Boone Ready Mix property.
The property is located in the Town of Boone’s former extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ). The old concrete plant lost its grandfathered status as a non-conforming operation after town staff and Boone Board of Adjustment decided the plant was inactive for longer than code allowed, which is about half of one year.
Last Year the Boone Town Council decided to proceed with legal action regarding the property because of violations to zoning ordinance, building codes and health and safety regulations. Whenever a N.C. Supreme Court ruling in December upheld the abolishment of the town’s ETJ, this case fell into the county’s lap.
Watauga County requested to intervene in the order as the enforcement entity because the Town of Boone lost its jurisdiction. DiSanti said that on Monday that Superior Court Judge Richard Gottlieb entered the order.
“Now we stand in the shoes of the Town of Boone,” DiSanti said. “We now have authority to proceed with enforcement. There are some difficult issues with that property that we’ve talked about during the process.”
DiSanti mentioned that once Michael E. Perry is available to meet in a couple weeks, DiSanti, Watauga County Planning Director Joe Furman and Watauga County Manager Deron Geouque will sit down with Perry.
“When he’s available, Joe, Deron and I will sit down and figure out a course of action that remedies the situation on that property but also doesn’t put the county in some difficult situations with controlling that property,” DiSanti said.
In early February, the Watauga County Board of Commissioners – after hearing form concerned citizens in the Seven Oaks neighborhood off of Roby Greene Road – discussed potentially foreclosing on the property because of delinquent taxes. The commissioners and citizens noted the frequent criminal activity on the property, including manufacturing of meth, and suggested acquiring potential grants to cleanup the property.
Violations identified by the Town of Boone included “illegal use of certain structures as residences, illegal construction or installation of various structures, illegal demolition work and an illegal landfill.”
Commissioner Billy Kennedy asked if all of the violations to town code would also fall under violations in Watauga County. DiSanti responded, “Generally, most of them do.”
Commissioner Jimmy Hodges asked, “If we do get the district attorney involved in this, would the county have to take possession of this property?”
“Not necessarily. Chapter 19 of General Statutes of NC deals with public nuisances in getting that property rendered as a public nuisance. I’ve gotten reports of activity of the sheriff’s office over the last four or five years. While there’s been a lot of activity out there we’ve got to make sure the reports and issues they give out comply with statutes for the district attorney to get involved,” DiSanti replied.
DiSanti added, “Right now, we don’t have a definitive course of action on what we are going to do. We are going to work on that in the next few weeks to come up with a definitive course of action to recommend to you.”
See more photos of the old Boone Ready Mix property below: