A Timeline of Events Related to the Proposed Asphalt Plant:
In June of 2015, the Planning Director of Ashe County received an application for a permit allowing an asphalt plant to go into operation in Glendale Springs, NC. To read a local newspaper article about this, click here ( * ).
Early in October of 2015, the Ashe County Commissioners started a process that would create a moratorium that would delay a start in the process of approving a permit for the asphalt plant to operate. To read a local newspaper article about this, click here ( * ).
On April 7, 2016, the company wanting to build the asphalt plant filed a civil lawsuit against Ashe County. To read a local newspaper article about this (that also tells what had happened since the original application for an asphalt plant was submitted), click here ( * ) .
During the summer of this year, Adam Stumb (Ashe County’s Planning Director) denied the application for the construction of an asphalt plant. The company wanting to build it appealed his decision to the Ashe County Board of Adjustments. To see an article in the local newspaper about that appeal, click here ( * ) .
On December 1st, the Board Adjustments did meet, and they voted to negate the earlier ruling by Planning Director Adam Stumb (which means the asphalt plant could be built). However, it is assumed the Ashe County Commissioners will appeal in Superior Court to have this ruling over-turned. To read an article in the local newspaper about this, click here ( * ).
To read a letter to the Editor of The Jefferson Post entitled “Ashe County Planning Board Decision: A Miscarriage of Justice” (which details why the ruling of the Board of Adjustments (which is composed of members of the Ashe County Planning Board is wrong on several points), click here ( * ) . The Board of Adjustments was scheduled to issue their verdict on November 17th. However, that meeting was cancelled....and re-scheduled for December 1st. (Appeals of this ruling can then go to Superior Court).
The Board of Commissioners did go to Superior Court to appeal this ruling on 12-30-2016.. No Court date has been set...but it could possibly be in 2017.
It should be noted that before Appalachian Materials can start operating an asphalt plant, it must first get a storm-water runoff permit from Ashe County.
In a somewhat related event (on the State level), newly elected NC Governor Roy Cooper has selected Michael Regan to head-up the NC Department of Environmental Quality. (Regan is a clean energy proponent, having spent eight years as the National Director of Energy Efficiency Southeast Climate & Energy Policy at the Environmental Defense Fund...where he also worked as Southeast regional director. This selection means this very important State Agency will be run by a professional that is essentially the antithesis of the person who held that post under former Governor Pat McCrory. To read an article about this important change, click here ( * ).
The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League sent a letter to Secretary Michael Regan on February 17, 2017 outlining deficiencies of the quarry on Glendale School Road where the proposed asphalt plant will be built. To read this letter, click here ( * ).
On May 26, 2017, in a written request to the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality (NC DEQ), the Protect Our Fresh Air (POFA) chapter of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) appealed to the State to re-open the asphalt plant air pollution permit the agency issued last year to Appalachian Materials. The six-page letter pointed to the State’s failure to account for the permit’s impact on Camp New Hope, just a few hundred yards from the site of a proposed asphalt plant.
Protect Our Fresh Air is a chapter of the multi-state Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League. The League (head-quartered in Glendale Springs) was founded in 1984 to defend Ashe County from a nuclear waste dump and today has chapters and projects in six southeastern states. This organization is leading the fight against the proposed asphalt plant.
This letter of request , which can be seen by clicking here ( * ), was delivered in person by BREDL’s attorney to NC DEQ Secretary Michael Regan. It states “A unique constellation of circumstances—an extremely vulnerable population, the river valley terrain, and the imminent pollution from an asphalt plant—exist at the Glendale site.”
Lou Zeller, co-author of the request and executive director of the League, said, “We want to re-open the permit because the Division of Air Quality has failed to protect the residents of Camp New Hope, children with life-threatening medical conditions.” Zeller listed some of the toxic air pollutants which would be emitted by the Appalachian Materials asphalt plant: mercury, nickel, arsenic cadmium, dioxins, benzene, formaldehyde, hydrogen sulfide, tetrachloroethylene and many more. He observed, “The impacts on children with no ability to withstand further damage to their health would be devastating.”
On June 19, 2017, the Ashe County Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution ...which can be seen by clicking here ( * ) ...that states that Ashe County supports the pending request to re-open the air permit issued to Appalachian Materials.
Under state law, the Division of Air Quality has the authority to re-open any permit. This is a standard provision in every air permit...including the one issued to Appalachian Materials. And, based on new information, a permit may then be modified.
The asphalt industry got a legislator from Gastonia (Representative Dana Bumgardner) to submit an amendment on June 29, 2017 that would remove the regulation of asphalt plants from all local governments. The legislative session ended the next day and the amendment didn’t get out of the Rules Committee...but it is alive for the next session (probably in August). It appears to really be aimed at Ashe County and Appalachian Materials. This would be a unbelievable over-reach by the NC legislature for the protection of a polluting industry, and would eliminate ALL of the safeguards counties like Ashe have set up to protect such things as their drinking water and the distance an asphalt plant needs to be away from existing residential and commercial buildings. To see the submitted legislation, click here ( * ).
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