Ready-Mix hearing to resume in September
by Anna Oakes
The town had called three witnesses when the Board of Adjustment decided to adjourn the meeting, which began at 5:30 p.m., around 11:30 p.m.
Located at 110 Seven Oaks Road, the plant was grandfathered in as a nonconforming use when the parcel was zoned B3 General Business as part of Boone's area of extraterritorial jurisdiction in November 1998. The adjacent Seven Oaks neighborhood was zoned R1 Single-Family Residential.
According to the Watauga County register of deeds, Delta Holdings LLC began leasing the property in June 2011 from Michael and Geraldine Perry, owners of Boone Ready-Mix.
The town received a written complaint last year from residents of the Seven Oaks residential subdivision adjacent to Boone Ready-Mix, referring to concerns about safety, aesthetics and pollution, according to the Boone Planning & Inspections Department.
Attorney Nathan Miller, who is also the Republican chairman of the Watauga County Board of Commissioners, represents Delta Holdings.
Of primary concern to Delta Holdings, Miller said, were the following cited violations: continued operation of a nonconforming situation after loss of the grandfathered use, placement of residences without proper permits, carrying on activities not permitted in the R1 zoning district and use of the property for unauthorized and impermissible combination uses.
The hearing also addressed other cited code violations relating to permits, dumping and erosion controls, but Miller said his client had plans to correct these problems.
Brian Johnson, an urban design specialist in Boone's Planning & Inspections Department, was called as the town's first witness.
During cross-examination, Miller peppered Johnson with a line of questioning designed to poke holes in the town's claim that the concrete plant had ceased operation for at least six months, which would cause the plant to lose its grandfathered status under the town's zoning laws.
He asked Johnson about the duration and frequency of the town's observations of the plant. Johnson said he and two other planning staff members observed the plant “for a roughly six- to eight-month period.”
“Were you out there 24 hours a day, seven days a week? Did you ask to look at their books? Did you call Raleigh to see if they were paying their sales tax?” Miller asked.
“No,” Johnson replied, stating he personally visited the property at least five times.
“You put that (violation) on there because the neighborhood wanted you to put it on there?” Miller asked.
“No,” Johnson again said.
Nearly every seat in the Boone Council Chambers was filled for the hearing, as a number of Seven Oaks residents said they planned to testify during the hearing. Three residents of the neighborhood were granted intervener status in the Board of Adjustment's quasi-judicial hearing, allowing them to call witnesses and cross-examine witnesses.
Members of the Seven Oaks subdivision recently joined the town of Boone in opposing legislation eliminating the town of Boone's ETJ powers. Senate Bill 949, introduced by Republican state Sen. Dan Soucek of Boone, would have abolished ETJ powers for the town of Boone, but the bill died in committee when the 2012 legislative session ended last week.
The case will continue at the Sept. 6 meeting of the Board of Adjustment.