WEST JEFFERSON-They came wearing anti-asphalt plant buttons on their shirts, coats and blouses – and they showed up in force Monday morning at the Ashe County Courthouse.
More than 25 people voiced their thoughts on Appalachian Materials’ plan to bring an asphalt plant to Glendale Springs during a public hearing hosted by the Ashe County Board of Commissioners.
And commissioners appeared to hear those concerns.
Following the hearing and an extended executive session, the five member board voted unanimously to start the process that could halt the plant from going forward for at least six months.
Commissioners instructed county attorney John Kilby to draft a moratorium that could stop the issuance of a polluting industries permit for up to six months. The board won’t actually vote on enacting the moratorium itself until its next scheduled meeting on Oct. 19.
Ashe County Commissioner Larry Rhodes said he’ll vote in favor of the moratorium later this month.
“Whether the plant goes forward or not, I think the board needs time to review this entire situation,” Rhodes said. “The moratorium would allow us to do that.”
How’d we get here
The Ashe County Planning Department received a formal application from Appalachian Materials for an asphalt plant at the end of June. The proposal stated the plant would sit on a 30-acre land parcel on Glendale School Road next to an existing rock quarry owned and operated by Radford Quarries.
According to Ashe County Planning Director Adam Stumb, before the asphalt plant can be granted a permit, it has to receive federal and state permit to meet the Polluting Industries Ordinance act passed in the early 2000s in response to Tri-County Paving attempting to build an asphalt plant.
Once plans for the plant became public earlier this summer, Patrick Considine, a local real estate broker, and other members of the community formed Protect Our Fresh Air to protest the plant. He called the possible moratorium by commissioners a “good first step.”
“We’re delighted they listened to the community and that so many had the time and courage to stand and up and express their desires,” Considine said. “But we don’t see this as over.”
Not the only meeting
Monday morning’s hearing isn’t the only one scheduled this week. A second hearing, hosted by the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources will hold a public hearing at 6 p.m. on Oct. 6. It’ll also be at the Ashe County Courthouse.
That hearing will help NCDENR’s Division of Air Quality decide if the plant meets air quality standards to move forward.
Check back later at www.jeffersonpost.com for a full recap of both hearings.