Republicans Jimmy Hodges, David Blust, and Perry Yates voted no. Democrats Billy Kennedy and John Welch voted yes.
Blust and Yates will now have to answer for that in the November elections, as they are running for reelection. May we suggest an appropriate campaign slogan: "Keep Good Ole Boy Politics Alive in Watauga!"
The attorney for High Country Watch, the citizens group opposing Maymead, wrote extensive analysis of the BOA decision and strongly recommended that the County Commission appeal the BOA decision. After all, the High Country Watch lawyers were on the same side with the county's special counsel during the several very long BOA hearings, arguing that County Planning Director Joe Furman had been correct to revoke the asphalt plant permit originally given to Johnny Hampton.
That attorney's analysis was shared with the County Commission (but we won't take bets on whether Perry Yates even read it). You can bet that County Attorney Stacy C. "Four" Eggers read it and persuaded the Republican commissioners in their closed session yesterday morning to ignore it. Where Good Ole Boy politics reign, the squint-eyed man is king!
Here's some of what attorney James Whitlock wrote:
...Fundamentally, the BOA Order suffers from an erroneous application of the doctrine of common law vested rights as established/interpreted by North Carolina courts, resulting in a decision that is based on errors of law, is not supported by substantial evidence, and is arbitrary and capricious. In particular, it is my opinion that the BOA's finding of common law vested rights based on substantial expenditures by JW Hampton Company and Maymead would result in reversal by the Superior Court because neither of these entities are the HILU [High Impact Land Use] Permit holder. Under North Carolina law, a party's common law right to develop and/or construct vests when the following four elements are met: (1) the owner has made substantial expenditures; (2) the expenditures were made in good faith; (3) the expenditures were made in reliance on a valid government approval authorizing the use requested by the owner; and (4) the owner would be harmed without a vested right [case citations omitted].... In regards to (1) above, the North Carolina Supreme Court has expressly held that only expenditures by the permit holder are pertinent to a common law vested rights analysis [case citations omitted].
The BOA Order, while expressly finding that Johnny Hampton was the HILU permit holder, has no factual findings related to any expenditures by Mr. Hampton in reliance on the HILU Permit, because there was no evidence of any such expenditures. Further, the BOA Order has no finding, because there was no evidence to support such a finding, that Mr. Hampton ever legally transferred the HILU Permit to either JW Hampton Company or Maymead. As a result, based on the North Carolina Supreme Court's decision in Town of Hillbsborough v Smith, any expenditures made by JW Hampton Company and/or Maymead are irrelevant to a common law vested rights analysis, and the BOA findings in this regard are erroneous as a matter of law and should be overturned....Yesterday was a black day for legal procedure but more importantly a black day for the health and well being of hundreds of citizens who looked to Watauga County government to put the interests of voters above the continued practice of good ole boy politics.