JEFFERSON-Ashe County’s response to a lawsuit filed by Appalachian Materials might not come this month after all.
The county is requesting an extension until June 15, to answer Appalachian Materials complaint, according to documents filed with the Ashe County Clerk of Court’s office on May 6.
Appalachian Materials LLC filed a “writ of mandamus” motion in Ashe County Superior Court on April 7. It’s a bid to force the county to allow the company to move forward with its controversial plan to build an asphalt plant in the eastern reaches of Ashe.
Ashe County Attorney John Kilby said the “mandamus,” motion is meant to compel a county to perform a certain action which the petitioner believes the county is obligated to do, an assertion Kilby said the county rejects in this case.
Appalachian Materials first began working on its asphalt plant project last summer. In early June, the company filed for both state and local permits it believed it needed to move forward with the operation, including a state air quality permit and a county “polluting industry,” or PID, permit.
The company claims in its complaint that Ashe County Planning Director Adam Stumb notified it on June 15, 2015, that “the PID application met all the requirements of the ordinance and stating that the PID permit was ‘on hold’ until Appalachian received the air quality permit from the (North Carolina Division of Environmental Quality).”
Appalachian further claims that Stumb’s “approval decision” was never appealed and has since become binding.
The company moved forward with its plans, but the project began to draw fire from the public in late summer after it became known that Appalachian Materials planned to build an asphalt plant in Glendale Springs.
Commissioners later approved a moratorium on the issuance of the permits Appalachian Materials needed to build its plant, time the board said it would use to amend its Polluting Industries Ordinance. The Ashe County Planning Board ultimately approved a new “High Impact Land Use,” measure but commissioners have yet to approve the ordinance changes.
County commissioners then voted on April 4, to extend the moratorium for another six months and Appalachian Materials filed its suit against the county three days later. The company’s complaint alleges that because its application was filed before the county moved to amend its polluting industries ordinance, state law says the moratorium simply doesn’t apply to Appalachian Material’s proposal.
Kilby said the county does believe the moratorium applies to Appalachian Materials.
Reach Adam Orr at 336-489-3058 or Twitter.com/AdamROrr.