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N.C. Court of Appeals upholds asphalt plant permit in Ashe County v. Ashe County Planning Board

RALEIGH — With a pair of concurring opinions published May 21, the North Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed the county planning board’s decision to issue a Polluting Industries Development Ordinance permit to Appalachian Materials for a proposed asphalt plant in the case of Ashe County v. Ashe County Planning Board.

Background

As a brief summary of Ashe County v. Ashe County Planning Board, Appalachian Materials applied in June 2015 for a PIDO permit required to operate an asphalt plant that the company proposed to build in Glendale Springs.

The PIDO permit was denied by the county’s planning director, Adam Stumb, but that decision was overturned by the Ashe County Planning Board, which granted Appalachian Materials the permit.

The County of Ashe appealed the planning board’s decision to Ashe County Superior Court, and Judge Susan Bray further affirmed the planning board’s decision in a superior court hearing Nov. 30, 2017.

Tuesday, May 21 — 230 days after hearing the county’s cases in the N.C. Court of Appeals — a court of appeals judge affirmed the superior court’s order affirming the decision of the Ashe County Planning Board to issue Appalachian Materials a PIDO permit.

Opinions

N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Chris Dillon wrote the main opinion, which Judge Donna Stroud concurred with.

According to the first superior court decision, Judge Swan Bray of Ashe County Superior Court was correct in affirming the decision of the Ashe County Planning Board to overturn the planning director and grant Appalachian Materials the PIDO permit, based on five points of contention heard during oral arguments October 3.

The court summarized that the county planning board was acting within its legally defined rights to overturn the planning director, the opinion said.

In a second opinion, N.C. Court of Appeals Judge Philip Berger Jr. concurred with the majority but said the entire case should have been dismissed to begin with.

“Because neither the Planning Board nor the trial court had subject matter jurisdiction, the order should be vacated, this matter dismissed, and the PIDO permit released to Appalachian Materials,” Berger said.

Reactions

Ashe County Planning Board Chairwoman Priscilla Cox, who was on the board that issued the PIDO permit, said she is pleased with the court of appeals’ decision.

“I thought we had carefully deliberated and applied the ordinances correctly,” Cox said. “I’m not at all surprised that at each and every point, the court has essentially said there’s no merit to the claims the county was making.”

According to Cox, there are some lessons to take away from the case.

“The main thing we should learn from this is, when a business has a business plan and complies with every regulation on the books, you cannot impose some standards that do not exist or make it up as you go,” Cox said. “I hope that this will allow the county planning board to focus on long-range planning, instead of having to spend all its time reacting to frivolous litigation.”

Acting Ashe County Manager and Planning Director Adam Stumb said he was unsure whether the case would be further appealed, or left as is.

“We’ll look at the court’s ruling with the county commissioners and go from there,” Stumb said.

Appalachian Materials was contacted for comment but had not responded by presstime.

Ashe Post & Times will update this story with more information as it is made available.


Community
ACHS students awarded over $1.4 million in scholarships

WEST JEFFERSON — Ashe County High School’s senior students were showered with scholarships Tuesday, May 14, as community members, principals, students and others announced 159 scholarship winners after a dinner served by staff and students. In total, ACHS students received $1,441,456 in scholarship funds.

Before the scholarships were announced, Ashe County Schools Director of Accountability/Testing and Career and Technical Education Joallen Lowder spoke to the soon-to-be graduates.

“In 14 days, those anxious, young 14-year-olds that walked in the doors of Ashe County High School will walk out as graduates,” Lowder said. “Tonight is just a small portion of the things that are happening. This is a big deal.”

Scholarship recipients included Lily Rochelle Calhoun, Blue Ridge Elementary; Anna Leigh Carpenter, Blue Ridge Elementary;Mary Abigail Sullivan, Blue Ridge Elementary; Emma Elizabeth Shepherd, Blue Ridge Elementary; Maegan Nicole Adolph, Mountain View Elementary; Anna Elizabeth Blackburn, Mountain View Elementary; Timothy Allen Barker, Jr., Mountain View Elementary; Emma Kathryne Calloway, Mountain View Elementary; Briana Nichole Davis, Mountain View Elementary; Wendy Leann Escobedo, Mountain View Elementary; Tanner Glenn Kilby, Mountain View Elementary; Heather Dianne May, Mountain View Elementary; Dianna Renee Miller, Mountain View Elementary; Alec Chase Roland, Mountain View Elementary; Samuel Christopher Tsolis, Mountain View Elementary; Taylor Nichole Walton, Mountain View Elementary; Rachel Leann Richardson, Westwood Elementary; Lauren Scott Robinson, Westwood Elementary; Kaessey Elizabeth Madison Thompson, Westwood Elementary; Matthew Cory Treva, Westwood Elementary; Rebecca Jane Yakel, Westwood Elementary; Alec Chase Roland, ACHS Booster Club; Mary Abigail Sullivan, ACHS Booster Club; James Conley Mead, ASU — Joe Daniel Severt Scholarship; Samantha Grace Woods, ASU — Joe Daniel Severt Scholarship; Olivia Amina Shepherd , ASU — Joe Daniel Severt Scholarship; Olivia Amina Shepherd , ASU — Ed and Lois Reich Scholarship for Education ; Olivia Amina Shepherd , ASU — Academic Excellence; James Conley Mead, ASU — ACCESS Scholarship; Samantha Grace Woods, ASU — ACCESS Scholarship; Maegan Nicole Adolph, ASU — Diversity Scholarship; Olivia Amina Shepherd, ASU — Academic Excellence; Maegan Nicole Adolph, the Last Dollar Scholarship ASU; Briana Nichole Davis, the Last Dollar Scholarship ASU; Kaessey Elizabeth Madison Thompson, Army ROTC to UNC Chapel Hill; Timothy Allen Barker, Jr., Air Force ROTC to Embry—Riddle Aeronautical University; Timothy Allen Barker, Jr., Embry —Riddle Aeronautical University Presidential Scholarship; Nicholas Adam Burke, Embry —Riddle Aeronautical University Presidential Scholarship; Wesley Marc Waddell, Ashe/ Alleghany Home Builders; Cori Isabelle Richardson, Keith & Sarah Reeves Honorary Scholarship; Matthew Cory Treva, Keith & Sarah Reeves Honorary Scholarship; Kellan Donald Anderson, Jerry Absher Memorial Scholarship; Wendy Leann Escobedo, Jerry Absher Memorial Scholarship; Lily Rochelle Calhoun, Ashe County Chamber of Commerce Scholarship; Carolyn Elyse Coldiron, Ashe County Chamber of Commerce Scholarship; Heather Dianne May, Dorothy Greene Memorial Scholarship; Dianna Renee Miller, Ashe County Christmas Tree Association; Dianna Renee Miller, Ashe County Farm Bureau; Anna Elizabeth Blackburn, Ashe County Historical Society; Riley Charles Edmondson, Ashe County Little Theater Stan Holman Memorial Scholarship ; Hunter Delenn Hogg, Ashe County Little Theater Stan Holman Memorial Scholarship ; Molly Kathryn Lewis, Ashe County Little Theater Stan Holman Memorial Scholarship ; Angelica Tao Macknee, Ashe County Little Theater Stan Holman Memorial Scholarship ; Cori Isabelle Richardson, Ashe County EOP Dorothy P. Eller Memorial Scholarship; Hallie Elizabeth Grubb, Basom; Emma Michelle Shepherd, Basom; Mary Abigail Sullivan, Basom; Hannah Grace Tester, Basom; Katelyn Marie Tester, Basom; Alec Chase Roland, Beaver Creek HS; Adrian Baldado Arado, Berea Tuition Promise; Anna Elizabeth Blackburn, BREMCO; Salem Elizabeth Brown, BREMCO; Lauren Scott Robinson , BREMCO; Rachel Elizabeth Weaver, BREMCO; Lily Rochelle Calhoun, Carson—Newman Honors Program ; Rachel Elizabeth Weaver, Carson Scholars Fund Scholarship ; Chloe Mikale Parker, UNC Chapel Hill Carolina Covenant; Alec Chase Roland, UNC Chapel Hill Carolina Covenant; Emily Faith Reed, Charlotte Novant Health Thanksgiving Day Parade Scholarship; Dianna Renee Miller, Chuck & Belle Gardner Memorial Scholarship; Rebecca Jane Yakel, Chuck & Belle Gardner Memorial Scholarship ; Kaessey Elizabeth Madison Thompson, DAR — Good Citizen Award; Taley Aleisha Dunnagan, Donahue Family; Alexander Sterling Jones, Donahue Family; Samantha Elizabeth Kefauver, Donahue Family; Jonathan Rayan Hernandez Reyna, Donahue Family; Hayley Brooke Ritter, Emory & Henry College Bonner Scholarship; Hayley Brooke Ritter, Emory & Henry College Founders Scholarship; Hayley Brooke Ritter, Emory & Henry Access Grant; Carter James Wilson, ETSU — Roan Scholarship; Anna Leigh Carpenter, ETSU — Presidential Honors Community Service Scholar; Lily Rochelle Calhoun, GE Star; Maegan Nicole Adolph, Golden Leaf; Chloe Mikale Parker, Golden Leaf; Brooklyn Faith Pruitt, Golden Leaf; Alec Chase Roland, Golden Leaf; Angelica Tao Macknee, Greater Lansing Area Development GLAD; Heather Dianne May, Greater Lansing Area Development GLAD; Maegan Nicole Adolph, Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Kellan Donald Anderson, Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Adrian Baldado Arado, Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Timothy Allen Barker, Jr., Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Nicholas Adam Burke, Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Anna Leigh Carpenter, Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Carolyn Elyse Coldiron, Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Briana Nichole Davis, Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Tommy Isaac Dollar, Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Marley Drew Eller, Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Molly Danielle Greer, Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Bradley Tyler Harmon, Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Noah Wyatt Johnson, Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Samantha Elizabeth Kefauver, Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Hunter Howell Knight Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Margaret Stuart Knight, Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Heather Dianne May, Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Kelsey Marie McVey, Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Dianna Renee Miller, Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Laci Savannah Poe, Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Alec Chase Roland, Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Kaessey Elizabeth Madison Thompson, Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Matthew Cory Treva, Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Mabry Grace Watson, Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Lucas Ray Worley, Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Rebecca Jane Yakel, Vannoy Construction — Jeremy Brent Elliott; Tafton Daniel Baker, Lenoir Rhyne Scholars; Bradley Tyler Harmon, LifeStore Employee; Dylan Thomas Calhoun, LifeStore Employee; Haley Autumn Miller, LifeStore Employee; Salem Elizabeth Brown, LifeStore Employee; Billy Cole Hudler, LifeStore Employee; Lily Rochelle Calhoun, LifeStore/Community; Kelsey Marie McVey, LifeStore/Community; Chloe Mikale Parker, Lowe’s Carl Buchan Memorial Scholarship ; Mabry Grace Watson, Lynn Brown Slater Memorial Scholarship; Kaessey Elizabeth Madison Thompson, Marine Corps League High Country Detachment #1389 Lance Corporal Philip S. Walter Scholarship; Julie Breann Smith, Meredith College Academic Excellence Scholarship; Julie Breann Smith, Meredith College Teaching Fellows Scholarship; Kaessey Elizabeth Madison Thompson, MOAA — Rear Admiral Scott L. Sears Memorial Scholarship; Rachel Elizabeth Weaver, NC State University 2019 College of Natural Resources Scholarship; Rachel Elizabeth Weaver, NC State University Provost Academic Award; Emma Kathryne Calloway, Paul & Alda Perkins Memorial Scholarship ; Timothy Allen Barker, Jr. , Paul & Alda Perkins Memorial Scholarship ; Anna Leigh Carpenter, Peak Creek Ruritan — Sid & Jackie Webb Scholarship; Carolyn Elyse Coldiron Q & A Duncan; Lily Rochelle Calhoun, AB & Ruth Hurt Memorial Rotary Scholarship; Samuel Christopher Tsolis, Dean C. Jones Jr. and Rotary Scholarship; Kelsey Marie McVey, Rotary Club of Ashe County Scholarship; Tommy Isaac Dollar, Todd Ruritan — Ruby A. Trivette Memorial Scholarship; Salem Elizabeth Brown, Todd Ruritan — Ruby A. Trivette Memorial Scholarship ; Lauren Scott Robinson , SECU; Rachel Elizabeth Weaver, SECU; Heather Dianne May , Skyline — Frank James — 2 year; Matthew Cory Treva, Skyline — Frank James — 2 year; Alec Chase Roland, Skyline — Frank James — 4 year; Anna Elizabeth Blackburn, Washington & Lee University — Johnson Scholarship; Alec Chase Roland, Watauga — Ashe — Wilkes; Dianna Renee Miller, West Jeffersons Woman’s Club Mary Ruth Payne Memorial Scholarship; Antonia Jada Contreras, WCC — A Step Up Leadership Scholarship; Jason Michael Durr, WCC — Thomas C. Bowie Memorial Scholarship; Gabrielle Mari Hamm, WCC — JB Hash Memorial Scholarship; Bradley Tyler Harmon, WCC — JB Hash Memorial Scholarship; Caroline Deanna Jones, WCC — JB Hash Memorial Scholarship; Heather Dianne May, WCC — JB Hash Memorial Scholarship; Shelby Ann Swiney, WCC — JB Hash Memorial Scholarship; Matthew Cory Treva, WCC — JB Hash Memorial Scholarship;Sierra Cheyenne Walton, WCC — JB Hash Memorial Scholarship; Garrett Alexander Wood, WCC — JB Hash Memorial Scholarship; and Taylor Ashton McNeill, Winesett Scholarship.

During the ceremony, ACHS Principal Amanda Hipp expressed her feelings for the class of 2019.

“I am so proud of every single student that is in here tonight,” Hipp said. “I’ve watched y’all grow from freshman to seniors, and y’all have my heart. You are a wonderful group of young people.”


News
WJ Alderman Brett Summey passes away

WEST JEFFERSON — The town of West Jefferson and all of Ashe County lost a friend, neighbor and elected representative Thursday, May 16, when Dr. Brett Summey Sr. died at the age of 83.

Commonly referred to as “Doc,” the West Jefferson native returned home after attending the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and getting his dentistry degree from the University of Maryland in 1961.

During the past 58 years, Summey never swayed from his path of helping the people in his community. According to Dr. Joel Yates, who knew Summey his whole life and practiced dentistry with him for five years, Summey was always looking to make things better for his patients. Summey didn’t call dentistry his job, but his service.

“He had all sorts of little tips and tricks that would make life easier for him and for the patient. The patient was always top priority for him,” Yates said. “He was always looking for new things, too; he read all of the journals. Anytime something new would come out he would research it, see if it’s good, order some samples and try it out. We learned some new things together, and it was a lot of fun.”

Yates added that Summey was the kind of person who just wanted to know people and treat them right.

“Doc was a true southern gentleman. He was somebody who, if he knew you or he didn’t, he always took the time and was eager to meet you, shake your hand and showed true interest in meeting you,” Yates said. “Once he got to know you, he loved to tell jokes and stories, loved to talk about the Tar Heels, talk about the stock market and he loved golf. He was so young at heart and he could find something to talk about with everybody.”

Since 1991, Summey served as a member of the West Jefferson Board of Aldermen and mayor pro tempore since 1996, filling in as mayor when called upon. He also served in many roles around the county including being a member of the AppHealthCare Appalachian District Board of Health, as chairman of the Ashe County School Board and master mason with the Ashe Masonic Lodge #594.

Town Manager Brantley Price said Summey was a kind person who always focused on the needs of the town.

“Doc, he was a professional, distinguished citizen and business person in West Jefferson,” Price said. “He’s going to be deeply missed by the town board of aldermen and the citizens of West Jefferson. He had a desire to see West Jefferson do better.”

Price and Yates both said Summey’s passing is a big loss for the county.

“He was definitely a pillar of the community,” Yates said. “Every part of this county is going to feel the loss; his church is going to feel a big loss, the town of West Jefferson is going to feel a big loss. He’s one of those people that everybody knew or everybody knew of.”

With a vacant seat left on the board of aldermen, the remaining members face the decision of how to move forward. According to state laws, the seat can be left open since it would be up for election later this year. Price said there’s no rush, adding that he didn’t know what the board would do.


News
featured
County manager proposes $37 million fiscal year budget

JEFFERSON — Acting Ashe County County Manager Adam Stumb proposed a $37 million county budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year during the Ashe County Board of Commissioners regular meeting Monday, May 20.

The $37,153,467 budget proposal was recommended with no change to the current tax rate of $0.443, Stumb said. For comparison, the 2018-2019 fiscal year budget was $35.281 million, Ashe Post & Times previously reported.

Accounting for the almost $2 million budget increase from the previous fiscal year are several expenditures, according to Stumb’s budget message:

Funding for education will be increased 4.5 percent, and the law enforcement budget will increase 5 percent.

Capital project funding will be allocated to the county airport, board of elections, environmental services, tax administration and public buildings.

Health insurance and retirement rates for county employees are increasing across the state, according to Stumb. A 2 percent cost of living adjustment has been accounted for, and part-time wages are proposed to increase for county employees.

Three local fire departments have requested an increase in their tax rate, Stumb said. Both Laurel Springs and New River volunteer fire departments want to increase their tax rates from 0.04 to 0.07, and Warrensville Volunteer Fire and Rescue seeks an increase from 0.68 to 0.8, according to the budget proposal.

“I believe that this budget represents a well-thought-out proposal which includes the hard work of each department of this county,” Stumb said in his budget message. “Without their hard work and dedication, it is my belief that we would not be in such good financial standing as we are currently in.

There are some major expenses looming in the county’s near-future, Stumb reminded the commissioners. Some capital projects that have already been identified include the construction of a new middle school, the Wilkes Community College expansion project and the potential of the old middle school, as well as proposed new buildings for the Department of Social Services, the Health Department, Environmental Services and Animal Control, Stumb said.

The board responded favorably to the proposed budget. Commissioner Larry Rhodes said it was important to keep the tax rate steady while continuing to provide the same services for the county.

“We will say more as we actually get into the workbooks and go through item-by-item, but on the whole it looks great, it looks doable,” Rhodes said. “We have some big things to do next year in looking at the middle school and Wilkes Community College — and plus, maintaining what we’ve got.”

According to Vice Chairman William Sands, the reason for Ashe County’s low tax rate compared to other North Carolina counties is the employees, who regularly spend less than their allotted budgets.

Ashe County’s tax rate of .443 is seventh lowest in the state, behind Jackson, Clay, Carteret, Macon, Swain and Watauga counties, according to 2018-19 data from the N.C. Department of Revenue.

“Y’all have done your work, now comes our part to go through it,” Chairman Todd McNeill said. “Pretty much every department turns money back in every year — that’s why we’ve got a healthy fund balance and that’s why our tax rate is low.”

As the newest-tenured board member, Commissioner Larry Dix echoed the comments of his fellow commissioners, adding that the county’s department heads have helped get him up to speed in understanding the county’s operations.

The commissioners unanimously voted to hold a budget work session immediately following their regular meeting Monday, June 3, and a public hearing for the county’s economic development budget will be at 9:15 a.m. June 17. These meetings will be held in the Ashe County Courthouse.

Should the budget work session June 3 continue past 5 p.m., it will resume the following day starting at 9 a.m., and so forth until the budget is fully reviewed, the commissioners said.