Appeal of Rainbow Trail Asphalt Plant Permit Continues at 2 on Friday Afternoon

Published Friday, October 16, 2015 at 9:25 am
Impact map created by High Country W.A.T.C.H.

Impact map created by High Country W.A.T.C.H.

Friday Morning Update: Radford Quarries appeal of the denial of its permit for an asphalt plant off of Rainbow Trail Road will enter its third day on Friday afternoon at 2 p.m.

Since Wednesday evening, the Watauga County Board of Adjustment has heard about 12 hours of testimony. High Country W.A.T.C.H., a local group of concerned citizens that oppose the asphalt plant, posted on its Facebook page that Planning Director Joe Furman, Watauga County Schools Supt. Scott Elliott, Dave Patella, an attorney representing Watauga County, and Chelsea Garrett, an attorney representing High Country W.A.T.C.H. all testified. Read below for more information.

Thursday Morning Update: On Wednesday, the Watauga County Board of Adjustment heard its first day of testimony in the appeal of Radford Quarries permit denial for an asphalt plant off of Rainbow Trail Road at the edge of Boone.

Watauga County Planning Director Joe Furman said that the appeal hearing has been continued and will next convene at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 15. According to High Country W.A.T.C.H’s Facebook page, the meeting lasted for six hours on Wednesday evening.

“High Country Watch representatives were present until the end of the hearing. Mr. Joe Furman was giving testimony at the time of recess and his cross examination will be continued tonight October 15 at 5:30 until ~ Your presence is our voice,” High Country W.A.T.C.H. posted.

By Jesse Wood

The Watauga County Board of Adjustment will hear appeals from Radford Quarries and Maymead Inc. in October and November, according to Watauga County Planning Director Joe Furman.

The hearing regarding the Radford Quarries site off of Rainbow Trail is set for Wednesday, Oct. 14, and the Maymead hearing begins on Monday, Nov. 16. Both meetings will begin at 5:30 p.m. and will be held in the Watauga County Administration Building. The appeals could be heard over multiple days if needed.

Earlier this summer, Watauga County Planning & Inspections denied both Radford Quarries (under the name Appalachian Materials LLC in the application) and Maymead Inc. permits to operate an asphalt plant in the county.

In June, Radford Quarries applied for an asphalt plant to be located on an 8.5-acre property off of Rainbow Trail Road. Radford Quarries purchased the property in 2013 for $42,500.

According to the original permit application, the grading site – amount of land to be disturbed – would cover 2.21 acres. 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.

However after further review, Furman said Radford Quarries permit was denied because of spacing requirements. Furman said that the site of the proposed asphalt plant lies entirely within the 1,500-foot buffer for educational facilities required by the county’s High Impact Land Use Ordinance.

The Watauga County Board of Education facilities are located nearby on Pioneer Trail, which is located on the other side of N.C. 194 than Rainbow Trail Road.

Radford Quarries applied for its application at the same time the community was up in arms about another proposed asphalt plan on U.S. 421 in Deep Gap.

In June, the Watauga County Planning & Inspections department revoked a 2011 permit for an asphalt plant to be operated by Maymead Inc. in Deep Gap. The county had originally granted J.W. Hampton Co. the permit, but Maymead applied for a transfer of the permit after it secured a lease from the Hampton family earlier this year (with first refusal purchase rights on 100+ acres.)

In noting that the permit had expired and been revoked, Furman wrote to Maymead President Wiley Roark, “Accordingly, it will not transfer to Maymead Materials, Inc. Watauga County maintains that a vested right has not been established for the erection of an asphalt plant.

Furman cited other reasons in the letter. Click here for more details.

Following these applications and outcry from concerned citizens who opposed to living in the vicinity of an asphalt plant, the Watauga County Board of Commissioners adopted more stringent regulations for asphalt plants and other high impact land uses.

The commissioners enacted a 750-foot buffer between asphalt plants (and other select uses) and residential property lines and 1,500-foot buffer between a scenic byway and asphalt plants (and other select uses). Previously, no residential buffer or scenic byway buffer existed.

High Country W.A.T.C.H., (Wataugans Against Toxins Close to Home) a group formed in opposition to these proposed asphalt plants, were grateful for the new regulations but wanted at least 1,500-foot buffer between residential property lines and at least a one-year moratorium on the issuance of high impact land use permits in the county.

While D.J. Cecile, owner of Radford Quarries, didn’t respond to requests for comment this summer, Roark, owner of Maymead Inc., said that he felt his company was grandfathered in to construct an asphalt plant along U.S. 421 and that the health concerns voiced by High Country W.A.T.C.H. and others were “ridiculous.”

See Roark’s response here.

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