By Jesse Wood
Watauga County Planning Director Joe Furman sent a letter to Maymead Inc. President Wiley Roark on Thursday, stating that the 2011 permit for an asphalt plant located in Deep Gap off of U.S. 421 has “expired and therefore [is] revoked.”
In the past several weeks, hundreds of citizens have protested to the Watauga County Board of Commissioners, urging them not to approve of an asphalt plant proposed on the Doc and Merle Watson Scenic Highway, within two miles of Parkway and Two Rivers Community schools and near many residential homes.
Earlier this week, the commissioners unanimously adopted a moratorium of asphalt plants until it could hold a required public hearing to modify the county’s high impact land use ordinance, which regulates asphalt plants, in order to protect its citizens from any toxic emissions and declining property values that would come with Maymead’s proposed asphalt plant. After that meeting, it was uncertain if Maymead had vesting rights or if the asphalt plant permit had been grandfathered in before the commissioners could amend the county’s high impact land use ordinance.
Maymead began leasing property from Johnny and Joan Hampton at the site of J.W. Hampton Co. rock crushing and recycling site off of U.S. 421 in January of this year. While J.W. Hampton Co. never built an asphalt plant, it did acquire an asphalt plant permit in 2011, one that Maymead sought to have transferred into its name this summer.
In noting that the permit had expired and been revoked, Furman wrote, “Accordingly, it will not transfer to Maymead Materials, Inc. Watauga County maintains that a vested right has not been established for the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 three reasons why:
- Additional required permits have not been obtained/maintained as follows: air quality permit from N.C. Division of Air Quality; driveway connection permit from N.C. Department of Transportation; storm water permit from N.C. Division of Energy, Mineral and Land Resources; grading/building/electrical permits from Watauga County
- Four years have passed since the original permit was issued and no appreciable progress has been made towards its implementation; as a result of this delay in establishing a use under the previously issued permit, it has expired
- The area described in the lease agreement does not encompass the area previously described in the Hampton permit related to the potential location of an asphalt plant. Discrepancies between lease area and the previously permitted (now expired) location make the proposed use not compliant with the ordinance or the now expired permit
Furman noted that Maymead could file an appeal with the county within 30 days.
The letter also said that this decision will not affect he current operations of the rock crushing and debris recycling that exist adjacent to where the proposed asphalt plant was located in planning materials.
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Maymead President Wiley Roark didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment at his office.