JEFFERSON — Following an emergency closed executive session that interrupted budget workshopping Tuesday, June 4, The Ashe County Board of Commissioners unanimously authorized Ashe County Attorney John Kilby to petition the N.C. Supreme Court for a discretionary review of the N.C. Court of Appeals ruling in Ashe County v. Ashe County Planning Board.

N.C. Court of Appeals judges ruled in favor of the Ashe County Planning Board May 21, deciding that Appalachian Materials has a right to be issued a Polluting Industries Development Ordinance permit for a proposed asphalt plant in Glendale Springs — as granted by the county planning board, but disputed in court by county administration and the commissioners, Ashe Post & Times previously reported.

“This next step in the process is — comparatively speaking — going to be extremely affordable,” chairman Todd McNeill said. “We are essentially just asking if the state supreme court will even hear anything else.”

According to McNeill, the cost of the discretionary review is estimated to be about $12,000, of which, $2,000 was designated by a local interest group called Protect Our Fresh Air and Clean Water during the board’s June 3 meeting.

“We would hope that other parties as interested in the outcome as we are would support this effort — financially or otherwise,” McNeill said.

Because the county cannot accept donations, financial support should be directed toward Pat Considine of Protect Our Fresh Air and Clean Water, McNeill said.

The board’s closed emergency session lasted half an hour, and came in the middle of a second consecutive day of the commissioners’ three-day budget workshop for 2019-2020.

Commissioner Larry Rhodes made the motion to authorize the discretionary appeal, seconded by Paula Perry and agreed upon 5-0 by the board.

Kilby and commissioners had scheduled the emergency meeting about one hour beforehand, closing the doors of the budget room for a second straight day to further discuss the asphalt plant litigation.

Kilby clarified that the appeal authorized Tuesday is not a full-on appeal, but a quasi-appeal that asks the N.C. Supreme Court to review the N.C. Court of Appeals decision that upholds the Ashe County Planning Board’s vote to issue a PIDO permit to Appalachian Materials.

The discretionary appeal will request the N.C. Supreme Court to determine if the correct decision was made in its review of Ashe County. Ashe County Planning Board, or if there were errors in the N.C. Court of Appeals that would require the Supreme Court to change the ruling.

“The first step in getting there is there has to be a petition filed in the (N.C.) Supreme Court, and there are criteria for how they will make that determination,” Kilby said. “It’s still discretionary — they don’t have to hear it — but if they meet criteria, there’s a greater chance that (the case) will be (heard).”

Ashe Post & Times will provide updates on the case of Ashe County v. Ashe County Planning Board as they are made available.

Tom Mayer is the executive editor of Mountain Times Publications, a group of five news newspapers, six websites and one monthly periodical in the High Country of North Carolina.

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