|"And we know you love them too!"|
I was expecting a legal argument from Maymead ... that the company is already "vested" in that property and therefore can't be stopped, or that the county's 30-day moratorium is illegal, or that proposed changes to the High Impact Land Use Ordinance are arbitrary and capricious.
Instead, the audience got a dog-and-pony show -- a bunch of assertions offered by a Greensboro lawyer and a female project manager that asphalt is a naturally occurring substance and is perfectly harmless and that a bread bakery emits as many volatile compounds as an asphalt plant and if asphalt fumes are harmful then why doesn't OSHA make workers wear protective gear, and what's all the fuss any way?
The Maymead female project manager was the comic highlight of the morning. She actually showed slides of herself posing with her two small children with various Maymead asphalt facilities in the background, trying to prove (we assume) that asphalt is tee-totally safe for small children, or at least a convenient backdrop for company-inspired photo ops, but really proving that some professionals will use their own children as cynical props for company P.R. It was enough to make your skin crawl.
This combined assault by Maymead on the audience's logic and its patience reminded me very much of the current incessant TV ads produced by Sea World to convince us all that keeping killer whales in confinement really expresses love for the animals. Those creepy ads have set a new benchmark for industry hypocrisy, and they fool no one. Same for Maymead this morning.
On the other side of the issue, the Commission heard from more than a dozen speakers who pointed out the glaring holes in the county's current High Impact Land Use Ordinance, particularly its lack of public notice/public hearing when a proposed polluting industry wants to locate here. County Planner Joe Furman can very quietly approve those applications -- as he did for Johnny Hampton several years ago, the permit that Maymead has been trying to ride to glory by simple transference of name. The first thing anyone knows who lives nearby is that work has begun. That sick, sinking feeling can visit any homeowner at any time in this county.
The Commission took no action after the public hearing, and one wonders what the three-Republican majority will do, because they hold the power. Can't help but note that circulating among them this morning was former Commission Chair Nathan Miller, who's on record as opposing any government regulation over any land use that a land owner can think up. He was there, perhaps, to jerk a knot in his former obedient followers, commissioners Perry Yates and David Blust, who in a moment of weakness voted for the present moratorium. Nathan Miller will put an end to further and future weaknesses if he can.
Oops. Left the meeting early. The Commission did vote 4-1 to add a 750-foot buffer from residential property lines and a 1,500-foot buffer from scenic byways and the Blue Ridge Parkway to the High Impact Land Use Ordinance. They did not add a provision for public notice/public hearing to the ordinance. The single no vote was Commissioner John Welch, who thought the amendments to the HILU ordinance did not go far enough.