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Village Council urges county to reject asphalt plant

FLAT ROCK — The Flat Rock Village Council voted unanimously on Thursday to urge the Henderson County Board of Commissioners to deny a rezoning request that would allow an asphalt plant on Spartanburg Highway at U.S. 25 Connector in East Flat Rock.

Southeastern Asphalt has applied for a rezoning from community commercial to conditional use to permit the plant, which would operate six days a week and could supply asphalt for the I-26 widening. The plant and associated operations such as loading and raw materials storage would cover 6½ acres of a 12-acre site.

Though the location for the proposed plant is outside village boundaries, Flat Rock Mayor Nick Weedman said he felt the council should take a position on the issue because “the proximity of the asphalt plant is quite close to the Village of Flat Rock.”

Council member Tom Carpenter said he believed the council should take a strong position against the asphalt plant because of concerns that it is close to residential areas, an elementary school and an assisted living facility.

Council member Anna Coletta said, “as currently zoned, the intended use is not permissible and people buy property based on what their surrounding zoning is.”

The council received 44 comments from the public on the issue, all opposed to the plant or raising questions about it. Since the village council lacks jurisdiction over the proposed plant, Weedman advised the homeowners that “their efforts are best directed at the county.”

All but a handful of comments came from homeowners outside the Village of Flat Rock.

Weedman read four from Flat Rock residents. These comments specifically raised concerns over noise, odor, traffic, air quality and adverse health.

Opponents have organized Friends of East Flat Rock to fight the rezoning request, gaining more than 4,900 signatures on an online petition against the plant.

MountainTrue, an organization that advocates for clean air, clean water and land conservation in Western North Carolina, has also joined the campaign against the plant, citing concerns over air pollution, water pollution, the proximity to the Green River Game Lands, community health and the fact that the plant would be a near a low-income community.

More than 100 people attended a public hearing via Zoom on the rezoning request on Monday, with the public input overwhelmingly opposed to the plant.

"The big takeaway from the Neighborhood Compatibility Meeting was that there is absolutely no way that this project is appropriate for the location and that the rezoning request should be denied," Gray Jernigan, MountainTrue's southern regional director and the Green Riverkeeper, said on the Mountain True website.