JEFFERSON-Following months of revisions and a few terse moments between the Ashe County Planning Board and county commissioners, a newly enacted high impact land use ordinance was officially added to the books Monday morning.
With the passing of the HILU, the county’s moratorium on these types of industries was lifted and the ordinance’s predecessor is now void.
The official passing of the ordinance followed months of discussions, debates and final revisions as commissioners and planning board members worked on a finalized version to satisfy safety concerns for county residents while not being too restrictive on industries looking to locate to Ashe County.
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.
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 County Planner Adam Stumb.
The passing of the new ordinance didn’t come without some minor changes.
Gene Hafer, of the planning board, appeared before county commissioners Monday morning to request that commissioners consider dividing the classifications of high impact land uses into two categories, as previously requested.
“We identified a number of buildings, occupations and industries that would be covered under the HILU,” said Hafer. “Some we identified as producing noise, smoke, dust and fumes. Wee thought they should be in one category. They look like any other building in the county. They do not need a seven foot high chain link fence around them. That’s the reason we separated regulated industries in two categories. We ask for you to return to two classifications. We think it’s a reasonable thing to do. We aren’t talking about distances (setbacks).”
The county’s decision to adopt the HILU was met with a standing ovation by those in attendance for Monday’s hearing, which was held prior to the official vote by the board.
“I’ve been following your progress on what use to be the polluting industries ordinance and I’m going to praise the planning board on its work as well,” said Michael Bell of Glendale Springs. “The planning board has done a wonderful job, but I would like to thank you, all five (county commissioners), for taken serious consideration of health and safety of the citizens of Ashe County.”
Not everyone who came to speak to the county commissioners Monday morning were motivated by fears of an asphalt plant coming to town. It was high impact land uses in general that got them up in arms.
Greg Wilcox, of Todd, stated his support of the HILU, and said his community is facing a similar problem, but instead of an asphalt plant, they were ready to fight the placement of a sawmill.
Joe Duvall said his property, too, is threatened by a stationary sawmill. He said the placement of such a fixture could cut his property values into half.
“It’s easy to be against this ordinance until a polluting industry moves into your backyard,” said Duvall.
Reach Jesse Campbell at 336-846-7164.