• Watauga Co. residents fighting plans for new asphalt plant

    By: Dave Faherty


    WATAUGA CO. - People in Boone are furious over plans for a new asphalt plant, which would be built 8 miles from a plant that is causing issues.

    It would be located on Highway 421 in Watauga County. More than 1,500 signatures have been collected on a petition opposing the plant.

    Hundreds protested at the Watauga County Commission meeting Tuesday night, urging leaders to consider a moratorium to keep the plant from being built.

    “This is serious. These toxins are not a joke. Just because you can't see them and you don't see the smoke and smell, it doesn't mean they are not coming here,” said Susie Winters, who lives on an organic farm in the area.

    The Maymead company already has an asphalt plant west of town. A project manager told reporter Dave Faherty the new plant is needed to help develop the new Highway 221 corridor. The company said it would comply with and operate below air quality standards set by North Carolina.

    Maymead will have to obtain a permit from the North Carolina Department of Environmental and Natural Resources. The company hopes that will happen by the end of summer, and the plant could open by late 2015.

    Resident Sheldon Wilder hopes county leaders will step in and prevent the plant from being built.

    “If allowed to be built on the scenic Doc Merl Watson Highway it would be one of the first images that greets our visitors as they enter Watauga County and the high country,” Wilder said.

    A special meeting has been scheduled in Boone for Monday at 5:30 p.m. to discuss the moratorium in closed session.

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