By now, Jeff Shipman, his mother Verna Shipman, or someone else with self-serving motives has probably contacted the Planning Board members to let them know only two people attended their “public meeting” on August 4 and that, even though many of us sign petitions and write letters opposing the plant, we’re not sufficiently motivated to attend a meeting.

We are motivated. We do care.

The truth is, the US is in the midst of a pandemic and some people are uneasy – perhaps even terrified – to gather in large groups in confined spaces.

Is it tone deaf of SE Asphalt to hold public in-person meetings during this time of pandemic and fear?

For some, that fear is growing as we get nearer to the August 20 Planning Board meeting – a meeting where our presence in numbers will speak loudly to the county and possibly even influence their decision when recommending whether to approve or deny SE Asphalt’s application for conditional rezoning to build a hot mix asphalt plant.

Barbara Bozon says, “I will be there in person. I know others will not be because of the Pandemic. They are upset because they want their voices to be heard at this meeting and they can’t take the risk attending in person. They were hoping it would be done on Zoom, especially for those who are elderly or those who have cancer, respiratory illnesses and can’t risk it.”

The Henderson County Planning Department is doing what they can to make it easier.

No, there won’t be a way to attend the August 20th meeting remotely via Zoom, but attendance in the public meeting room will be limited to 100 people at a time to maintain the requirements for 6-foot social distancing and masks will be required.

Planning Director Autumn Radcliff has also agreed to include an additional column on the signup sheet so people can safely wait in their cars and be notified by phone call or text when it’s their time to speak.

That signup sheet will be available in the lobby of the Technology Education and Development Center. When one person leaves after comment, another will be allowed to enter.

If you can risk it, you must attend.

The Henderson County Planning Board Meeting will take place on Thursday, August 20, 2020 at 5:30 PM in the Technology Education and Development Center (Building 7 on the map below) at Blue Ridge Community College (49 E. Campus Drive, Flat Rock, NC 28731).

Blue Ridge Community College map

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Yes, extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. Be there if it’s at all possible. Your attendance may be the difference between living with an asphalt plant in East Flat Rock or not.