Plans to build an asphalt plant were flattened when the Washington County Board of County Commissioners upheld the Planning and Zoning Board’s recommendation to not approve a land use change when they met in regular session Tuesday.
The request from ASC Ventures I to change 44.92 acres of land on U.S. 77 in the south end of the county from agriculture/silviculture to industrial first came before commissioners in October but was tabled in order for the board to gather more information. As the request came before the board again, members of the community turned out as well to voice concerns against the proposed asphalt plant.
“We did our due diligence in purchasing property for peace and quiet,” said resident Bill Welton. “Most of us did except for one person.”
With the proximity of the proposed plant being near a chain of lakes in the area, residents were concerned with contaminants making their way into the lakes along with smells and sounds not found in the rural community.
“We didn’t buy our retirement property to wake up smelling asphalt,” said resident Richard Wakely. “We bought it for the wild and peace and quiet.”
Others are concerned contaminants will harm human health as well as the environment.
“No one can guarantee that contaminants will not seep into the ground or water,” said Sharon Hobbs. “I am fighting for my life here. I was diagnosed with Alzheimers, and my doctor told me I needed to have my hands in the ground and sunshine. I cannot risk putting my hands in contaminated soil.”
Hunter Shaw then spoke to the board regarding his company’s request to change the land use.
“I understand there's a lot of opposition on this matter,” Shaw said.
“To have this amount of opposition here today is apparent there is more being done than the residents within 500 feet of the property that were notified. If this were proposed 30 years ago, it would have never gotten this far out of hand. In this day and age of Facebook and keyboard warriors, more misinformation has been said about this positive improvement. Our proposal has been changed to use only eight acres for the plant instead of the initial 45 (acres). The other acreage would have deed restrictions so no other industry can be built.”
Planning and Zoning Chairman John Gay asked commissioners that the decision to be upheld.
“We have spent a considerable amount of time looking at this issue. We thought it through and voted unanimously to deny it,” Gay said to the board. “I would urge you to consider our vote and uphold our decision. It is not that we do not want an asphalt plant in Washington County, we just don't need one in this particular location.”
Commissioners ultimately voted unanimously to uphold the decision of the planning and zoning board and denied the land use change.
“The county needs an asphalt plant; we agree with that. The plant simply needs to be in a place that is zoned industrial,” Commissioner Alan T. Bush said.
Newly sworn in Commissioners Wesley Griffin and David Pettis agreed with the board’s decision both stating they would have voted against the land change as well.
With the denial of the land use change, plans to build the plant have been put on hold indefinitely.
In other business, Pettis and Griffin were sworn in as the newest commissioners for the Washington County Board of County Commissioners. Both will take their seats in the December meeting to begin voting on issues brought before the board.
The Washington County Board of County Commissioners will meet again in regular session at 9 a.m. Dec. 15.
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