PO Box 1135, Marshall, NC 28753
Sustainable Madison is a chapter of Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League which is a registered 501(c)3 non profit.
Sustainable Madison is a non-profit composed of Madison County residents and property owners who believe in the practice of Earth stewardship by our members, our government and the public. To foster stewardship, Sustainable Madison encourages governmental and citizen responsibility in protecting our natural resources. Sustainable Madison advocates grassroots involvement to empower our community in environmental issues. Our focus is on preserving the health and beauty of “The Jewel of the Blue Ridge Mountains” for future generations. We seek to ensure sustainable economic growth which benefits our county’s environs, tourism, and the health of its people.
The County and Madison Asphalt went out of their way to step back from the Settlement Agreement and “Consent Order” as binding on the individual respondents, the BOA, or the court. The court agreed and said that the individual respondents were not “prejudiced” by either document because the court is free to make it’s own decision on the merits.
This means our hearing on Madison Asphalt’s appeal will go forward Friday September 4th at 10:30 AM at the Watauga County Courthouse in Boone, NC. There is a 30 seat capacity. First come, first seated. Masks must be worn.
We gave our brief and related material for this Friday’s appeal to the judge after this morning’s hearing.We are hopeful that the Judge will uphold the Board of Adjustment’s unanimous ruling.
The county voted 3-2 to approve the asphalt plant. To their credit, Norris Gentry and Craig Goforth both stated that they were in favor of letting the legal process play out. However, they were overruled, with Brigman stating that Madison Asphalt had done “everything right and were being punished”. We can assure you that they did NOT do everything right; their application permit was riddled with errors in even the most basic of things, like stack heights and setbacks.
Sustainable Madison laid out a strong case with numerous expert witnesses, many of them members of our own community, who put their reputations on the line for truth. Truth about the dangers to our air, to our water and to our way of life. Noise, odor, traffic and particulate air pollution are now in our future, unless the case moving forward prevails, and yes, the case is still moving forward. The Parties with Standing have an Appeals court date of September 4, 2020. Sustainable Madison will be funding the legal fees for these Madison County residents. We may also be filing suit against the County for illegal negotiations which may have violated the quasi-judicial process. We will update the community when our attorney has received and reviewed all communications between Madison Asphalt and Madison County lawyers, which were legally requested weeks ago, and to which the county has still not complied. We will share any updates on further proceedings or decisions made by the citizens with standing. As our lawyer said after tonight’s ruling “just because they say it’s raining, doesn’t mean it’s raining”.
It is beyond disappointing to have our county government negotiate a settlement behind closed doors and with no public comment. And it is a disservice to the fine members of the Board of Adjustment who sat through 35+ hours of testimony and with careful deliberation, made the right call for the safety of our community. What message does this send to the committed citizens who serve on all of our county boards?
Sustainable Madison has been buoyed by this community’s support and response. To have 75+ people come out and show support on a Tuesday evening was, indeed heartening. We are grateful for the support. We will need it in the coming months.
The attorneys for Madison Asphalt have filed an appeal against the county’s decision. The appeal should be heard within the next year in the Madison County superior court. A copy of the appeal can be found here.
Madison County filed the official record of the ruling for the Board of Adjustment asphalt plant hearing with the court on Friday the 27th of September.
The applicant has 30 days to file their appeal. Their appeal will be against the county ruling, therefore the applicant is taking the county to court. For this reason, Sustainable Madison and the parties with standing are not included in the appeal when it is filed. Any of the parties who had standing at the hearing and presented a case, who desire to be involved in the appeal, will need to have their legal representation file an intent to intervene with the courts once the appeal is filed by the applicant.
Brian Gulden, the attorney representing the group of residents who comprise the first party that has standing, and whose fees were paid for by Sustainable Madison, will be filing an intervention as soon as the appeal is filed. This will allow him to defend the case he laid out in court during the appeal.
The official ruling filed by the County Attorney can be read here.
The complete transcripts of the full hearing can be downloaded below:
The Madison County Board of Adjustment voted unanimously to deny Madison Asphalt’s permit on the grounds that they had failed to provide the burden of proof on all three of the required statutes. The board of adjustment is made up of Madison County community members, who shared the same concerns that we did. Sustainable Madison and all of the Madison residents who have fought hard, continuously for 7 months were not in it for self preservation, we have been fighting for the community as a whole, especially those vulnerable populations in our community who do not have a voice or a choice, like the patients at Elderberry and the children at the Early Childhood Development Center. We fought for our environment, our town, our people. We will continue to work to protect our Jewel, and have so many projects we want to take on in this community!
Thank you to everyone who has been there cheering us on, offering insight, showing up, donating, and being there in so many ways! You are so loved and appreciated!
The Madison County Board of Adjustment will be meeting again in the County Courthouse on Monday June 17th at 6:00 pm. During this hearing the board will hear testimony from expert witnesses and landowners opposed to the issuance of the permit.
Sustainable Madison has retained an attorney on behalf of those opposed to the plant as well as paying the witnesses who will testify as to why the plant should not be permitted.
Sadly, the way the zoning laws are written, the onus and expense of proving the asphalt plant will be hazardous to the health and economic prosperity to the community falls to our community of which Sustainable Madison is helping to lead the way. This is why we still need your financial support, please donate by clicking on the Donate button above.
The hearing will likely last several days and may be scheduled on subsequent Mondays. Unlike Board of Commissioner meetings there will not be an opportunity for public comments during the hearing. There will be a period where those members of the public who would be affected by the plant will have 3 minutes to voice their concerns. After all the witnesses have testified the board will then decide on whether to approve the conditional use permit.
French Broad Paving Company, whose business is largely in Buncombe County, has formed a limited liability corporation for the sole purpose of opening an asphalt plant in Marshall and they have recently filed a permit requesting approval for building and operating the plant on land it leases in the McCrary Quarry. Once approved by the county Board of Adjustment they will request a permit from, the N.C. Department of Air Quality which will then allow the project to proceed.
In our view, an asphalt plant at this site raises a number of concerns.
Asphalt plants emit many toxic chemicals including Arsenic, Benzene, Cadmium, Chromium, Formaldehyde, Toluene, Xylene and more. Government emission standards do not take into account the topography of our mountains nor the many temperature inversions that occur in our area which can concentrate pollutants.
Within a 1/4 mile of the proposed site are located a nursing home, county preschool program, medical center, health dept, jail, fairgrounds and more. Many of these populations are more at risk from the pollutants.
Tourism revenues in Madison County were over 39 million dollars in 2017 supporting local businesses and providing many jobs in the county. Pollution and odors emitted by the plant would likely impact the number of visitors coming to the county causing harm to local businesses and reducing the sales tax revenues the country receives.
Properties located near the asphalt plant will suffer from reduced property values as well as suffering possible health issues. In addition to reducing the value of families properties, this will impact the county thru reduced property tax revenue.