JEFFERSON-Ashe County Planning Director Adam Stumb didn’t mince words while describing the contentious nature of last week’s planning board meeting before addressing the board of county commissioners Monday morning.
Last week, the planning board took issue with the way that direction was given by the county commissioners on drafting stricter setbacks on the proposed high impact land use ordinance.
“The planning board met last Thursday to take another look at the ordinance and some of the suggestions that the commissioners had,” Stumb said to the board. “We definitely had a passionate discussion of the ordinance at that meeting…some very strong opinions.
During the planning board’s meeting, board member Darrell Hamilton said he was “appalled at our commissioners that would listen to the complaints
of a few and take away from the many.”
“They never hold back on me and apparently they never hold back on you,” Stumb said Monday. “I think what I would say is I wouldn’t ask them to apologize for those opinions the same way I wouldn’t ask for the folks at Glendale Springs to apologize for their opinions… I think what happens sometimes is those strong opinions skew their tone or the way they deliver their message. Regardless, we still have some work to do.”
That work includes cleaning up some language of the ordinance and to make sure it does not cross any legal lines by targeting any specific business or industry.
Ultimately, however, the planning board agreed to stiffen the setback on the proposed new ordinance.
Following Stumb’s report, the board of commissioners agreed to hold a public hearing April 4 to extend the six month moratorium on polluting industries.
During the March 7 meeting, Commissioners voted 5-0 that the proposed setbacks for Class I facilities under the proposed ordinance should be increased from 1,000 to 2,500 feet and from 500 feet to 1,000 feet for Class II facilities.
The HILU creates two polluting industries categories. Class I includes asphalt plants, incinerators, quarries, stone crushing operations, concrete mixing plants, pulp mills, chip mills and saw mills. Class II includes chemical manufacturers, chemical storage, explosives manufacturers and warehouses, fuel storage centers and medical waste disposal centers.
Since 1999, the county has been protected by the Polluting Industries Ordinance, but a proposed asphalt plant in Glendale Springs has reignited calls for revisions and greater protections.
In response to this, county commissioners voted 5-0 on Sept. 8, 2015 to hold a public hearing for amending the existing PIO. Then, on Oct. 19, the board unanimously adopted a six-month moratorium on new permits under the PIO.
The controversy that stemmed from the public outcry for the need for stricter ordinances and sparring boards ultimately came from an application filed by Appalachian Materials nine months prior. The company requested permission to build an asphalt plant in Glendale Spring in late June of 2015.
Reach Jesse Campbell at 336-846-7164.