A proposed North Buncombe concrete plant hearing before the Buncombe County Board of Adjustment was adjourned after two hours of testimony due to insufficient notification of the project’s neighbors — and with scores of members of the public left standing outside on the sidewalk because of inadequate hearing-room space.
The concrete plant, proposed for Murphy Hill Road, has already stirred community outcry from neighbors who maintain the property is not suitable for that use.
And a March 12 hearing before the Board of Adjustment was cut short — after testimony from representatives of the plant and two opposing speakers — once it surfaced that letters notifying adjacent landowners of the hearing were mailed nine days earlier. By law, those letters had to be mailed at least 10 days before the hearing.
Assistant County Attorney Michael Frue approached board chair Martin Lewis with the recommendation he adjourn the meeting, which Lewis did after some discussion with the audience.
Though the letters were ready to be mailed on Feb. 28, the letter in question was postmarked March 3, only nine days prior, Frue explained to Xpress. If the board made a ruling on the plant, that slip-up could result in a jurisdictional problem should the case be appealed, he said.
The adjournment means the process will start all over again with a new application from Blue Ridge Concrete. County Zoning Administrator Jim Coman told Xpress that discussions are underway to find a date for another hearing, but that Blue Ridge Concrete will not have to resubmit its application.
The meeting lasted more than three hours (a hearing on another matter had been held immediately prior to the concrete-plant hearing). Most opponents of the plant could not fit into the small hearing room, which holds less than 100 people. While the concrete-plant representatives were given first choice of seating, opponents to the plant alternated taking seats inside the hearing.
After many waited in a line around the block or had to leave before getting a chance to speak, some inside the room demanded that the next hearing be held in a larger venue capable of handling the size of crowd that turned out.
For a look at the crowd that came out to speak on the issue, watch the video below.
— Brian Postelle, staff writer