Last night at the Madison County Courthouse, yet another chapter unfolded in the saga of Wolf Ridge, where developers Rick Bussey and Orville English are constructing a 900-unit subdivision of luxury homes replete with a wastewater sewage-treatment plant and a private jet strip. The project has met bitter opposition from Laurel Valley Watch, a citizen’s group that says the development poses a threat to the surrounding environment and rural character of the area.
In August, some 300 members of the community turned out when the state Division of Water Quality held a public hearing about the proposed wastewater-treatment plant. Several months later, DWQ approved the permit, but Laurel Valley Watch and Asheville-based Clean Water for North Carolina presented a legal challenge to the decision. The hearing for their appeal is scheduled for May 7.
On Monday evening, the Madison County Board of Adjustment was slated to hold another public hearing, this time to decide whether or not to approve a conditional-use permit for the wastewater-treatment plant. The courthouse was nearly full, and the meeting hadn’t yet been called to order when Diane Van Helden, an attorney representing several members of Laurel Valley Watch, brought the whole affair to a grinding halt.
Van Helden made a motion to postpone the meeting, saying the Board of Adjustment had violated its own ordinance by not giving enough advance notice of the hearing. The law requires that notice be published in the local newspaper at least 15 days prior to the hearing, she pointed out, but the announcement in the News Record and Sentinel appeared just 12 days in advance.
The board responded by adjourning the meeting, and rescheduled the public hearing for Monday, May 21.
— Rebecca Bowe, editorial assistant