Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Will the Watauga County Commission Do Anything About the Proposed Maymead Asphalt Plant?
The attorney representing Eggers Eggers Eggers & Eggers was very discouraging when Commissioner John Welch asked what the procedures were for instituting a moratorium, which is what the majority of the speakers at the public hearing tonight begged the commissioners to pass. Oh it's very difficult, it's very hard, it has to pass rigorous tests, EggersEggersEggersEggers belly-ached, but every specific "test" to warrant a moratorium that EggersEtc. mentioned seemed like a snap to me, especially the presence of an "immediate threat."
What is the proposed Maymead asphalt plant on the Doc & Merle Watson Scenic Byway if not an immediate threat?
Commission Chair Jimmy Hodges said that his fellow commissioners would be considering their options as they went into closed session with their -- ahem! -- attorney, the ineffable Republican agglomeration of EggersEggersSquared. Everyone left the commissioners' meeting at that point, for their closed session. I didn't wait around for them to come out of closed session, and neither did any members of the press. Maybe someone is posted as a guard of the public trust there and will let the rest of us know if the Eggers' brand held the commissioners in check and if they might have stumbled into actually doing something for the rest of us.
Jimmy Hodges, as always now, is the swing vote. The other two Republicans were noticeable silent after the public hearing, though you could see Mr. David Blust's body language and Mr. Perry Yates's facial expression as not-prepared-to-take-action "tells." Mr. Hodges, on the other hand (along with the two Democrats, John Welch and Billy Kennedy), was at least mouthing sympathy and understanding for the plight of residents and school children at two elementary schools near where Maymead intends -- by its own estimate -- to spew 62.32 tons yearly of particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, carbon monoxide, and volatile organic compounds. (Several people during the public hearing said they didn't believe Maymead's estimate for their own pollution -- why would they have any incentive to be honest under NC's current trust-the-polluter regime? -- and neither do I. Those estimates of air pollution are quite simply public jokes worthy of public ridicule.)
Anyway ... Jimmy Hodges, he's the man with the power to do something. Will he? Dunno. He has a history of voting for moratoria on asphalt plants back in the 1990s when he was first on the County Commission. But, of course, he's become a registered Republican since that time, and it's the ironclad Republican doctrine that private land ownership trumps public health, private investment by the neighbors, and the moral dictates of God Himself.