Under the Pat McCrory administration, the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is an emasculated shadow of its former self, so if anyone thinks its permitting process for a new asphalt plant on the Doc & Merle Watson Scenic Byway will save you and the air you breathe, you should perhaps think again.
As revealed in an intercepted email from a DENR air quality official, either DENR is quite unaware of Maymead's intentions, or else it is willfully trying to mislead the public:
Wiley Roark, the president of Maymead Inc., cheerfully admitted his intentions to Anna Oakes with the Watauga Democrat. He said he considers the plant location a "low-density area outside of town limits" and is therefore, by a curious logic, an "enhancement" for Boone. As if the residents of Boone are the only people who might be affected.
From: "Hartsfield, Taylor" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Monday, April 27, 2015 9:33 AM
Subject: RE: Watauga County: Public Records Request.
Attached is Application 9500134.15A that was received by our office on April 13, 2015. This is an application for an ownership change only. The facility conducts crushing and recycling of construction debris, including concrete and asphalt. No changes to that process were requested. The review process is still ongoing. If you have any other questions, please contact me. Thank you,Taylor
"Low-density area"? We'll see, as the neighbors start to wake up to what's about to happen in their near vicinity.
Maymead still has to apply separately for a permit to operate an asphalt production facility. Roark said he expected that process would take 90 days. We suspect he knows what he's talking about. Without local land-use regs in place, DENR rarely turns down an asphalt plant application. That's going to be especially true under the current regime, which has made DENR a permit-delivery system rather than anything approaching an environmental protection agency.