JEFFERSON-As promised by county planner Adam Stumb, commissioners were apprised Monday of updates in terms of setbacks and distances that will be incorporated in the county’s proposed high impact land use ordinance.
These changes come as a response to requests by county commissioners during the board’s Sept. 5 meeting.
This ordinance will replace the county’s longstanding polluting industries ordinance. The need for a list of updated regulations and guidelines were voiced last year following news that a permit had been filed for an asphalt plant in Glendale Springs.
Two moratoriums on permits for these types of facilities have extended the fight to regulate these industries by a year, but the board must have a new ordinance in place before the current moratorium expires next month.
The new setbacks include two distances:
- 2,000 feet between the HILU and the protected site
- 1,000 feet from the HILU to the property line, which is an internal setback, said Stumb
Commissioners and the planning board have spent untold hours mulling the question. The goal is to come to an agreement that protects citizens from pollutants that isn’t too restrictive to industries that might want to come to Ashe County.
In addition to the proposed setbacks, Stumb and the county’s planning board also heeded the county’s request to simplify the proprosed ordinance’s categories.
Stumb also discussed with commissioners a variance procedure that would allow an adjoining property owner affected by a HILU site to ask for additional setbacks. Lue Zeller from the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, which has served as a vanguard organization in the fight against the asphalt plant in Glendale Springs, asked for the planning board to include language in the ordinance to increase setbacks.
“We can’t find additional information that could allow this,” said Stumb.
County officials have previously noted the difficulty that comes with crafting a comprehensive ordinance that balances industry interests and public safety.
“These change as society changes, but what we have is better than what we started with,” said County Manager Sam Yearick. “I think this is a good document.”
A public hearing for the ordinance is currently scheduled for Oct. 3.
Reach Jesse Campbell at 336-846-7164.