January 17, 2021

Proposal to rezone property for WNC asphalt plant withdrawn

A Henderson County business owner is going back to the drawing board after applying to rezone a 12-acre piece of property in East Flat Rock. The proposal, submitted by Jeff Shipman, owner of Southeastern Asphalt, calls for the property zoning to switch from business/residential to industrial. Shipman said he wanted to expand his business. “When you’re buying your material from someone else that’s setting your price, it’s hard to compete,” he said. “So we decided to put the plan in.” Shipman has faced heavy opposition from nearby residents since they learned about the proposal back in June. Michelle Tennant and Shannon Nicholson, nearby neighbors, started a campaign known as Friends of East Flat Rock Say No to Asphalt Plant. They placed signs in opposition along Spartanburg Highway, to which Shipman placed his own. “My main concern is the zoning,” said Tennant. “East Flat Rock is actually not zoned for industrial use and we already have three asphalt plants within a 15 minute drive. Four, if you count the one in South Carolina.” The couple organized and have gathered more than 11,000 signatures in opposition of the rezone. The Henderson County Board of Commissioners was set to hold a public hearing on Thursday, Oct. 1. Tennant said she and Nicholson were prepared to be there. But over the weekend, Shipman withdrew the request to rezone. “When we received notice on Monday morning the application had been withdrawn, we were really shocked,” said Nicholson. “Shocked and very pleasantly surprised.”Shipman said the Henderson County Board of Commissioners wouldn’t let him postpone the meeting already scheduled for Oct. 1. He said he decided to withdraw the proposal. But he is eligible to reapply to rezone after six months. Shipman told WYFF News 4 he’s considering that, but hasn’t said definitively said one way or the other. Grady Hawkins, Chairman of the Henderson County Board of Commissioners, said Shipman had already postponed a previous public hearing scheduled back in September. Shipman said for the Oct. 1 hearing, he’d planned to bring in a toxicologist from Massachusetts to address concerns nearby residents had about health and air quality.He said she wasn’t able to travel and get back to the state without quarantining, something he said she wouldn’t have been able to do, according to her schedule. Shipman said he grew tired of the opposition.”When we say we had a toxicologist, I mean, people on there (would say) well, ‘I wonder how much Shipman had to pay them off?’ You know what, I’m just a good old country boy. This doctor don’t know me from anybody.” Meanwhile, Tennant and Nicholson said they’re pleased with the community input and commitment to the opposition. “Whatever happens now, or in the future, friends of East Flat Rock is now united,” said Tennant. “Over 11,000 in a petition and over 2,000 on Facebook, so that is a significant number.””I understand people may not like something of an idea, but you need to base it off of something that’s factual,” said Shipman. “Not just because you just don’t want it.”

A Henderson County business owner is going back to the drawing board after applying to rezone a 12-acre piece of property in East Flat Rock.

The proposal, submitted by Jeff Shipman, owner of Southeastern Asphalt, calls for the property zoning to switch from business/residential to industrial.

Shipman said he wanted to expand his business.

“When you’re buying your material from someone else that’s setting your price, it’s hard to compete,” he said. “So we decided to put the plan in.”

Shipman has faced heavy opposition from nearby residents since they learned about the proposal back in June.

Michelle Tennant and Shannon Nicholson, nearby neighbors, started a campaign known as Friends of East Flat Rock Say No to Asphalt Plant.

They placed signs in opposition along Spartanburg Highway, to which Shipman placed his own.

“My main concern is the zoning,” said Tennant. “East Flat Rock is actually not zoned for industrial use and we already have three asphalt plants within a 15 minute drive. Four, if you count the one in South Carolina.”

The couple organized and have gathered more than 11,000 signatures in opposition of the rezone.

The Henderson County Board of Commissioners was set to hold a public hearing on Thursday, Oct. 1.

Tennant said she and Nicholson were prepared to be there. But over the weekend, Shipman withdrew the request to rezone.

“When we received notice on Monday morning the application had been withdrawn, we were really shocked,” said Nicholson. “Shocked and very pleasantly surprised.”

Shipman said the Henderson County Board of Commissioners wouldn’t let him postpone the meeting already scheduled for Oct. 1.

He said he decided to withdraw the proposal. But he is eligible to reapply to rezone after six months.

Shipman told WYFF News 4 he’s considering that, but hasn’t said definitively said one way or the other.

Grady Hawkins, Chairman of the Henderson County Board of Commissioners, said Shipman had already postponed a previous public hearing scheduled back in September.

Shipman said for the Oct. 1 hearing, he’d planned to bring in a toxicologist from Massachusetts to address concerns nearby residents had about health and air quality.

He said she wasn’t able to travel and get back to the state without quarantining, something he said she wouldn’t have been able to do, according to her schedule.

Shipman said he grew tired of the opposition.

“When we say we had a toxicologist, I mean, people on there (would say) well, ‘I wonder how much Shipman had to pay them off?’ You know what, I’m just a good old country boy. This doctor don’t know me from anybody.”

Meanwhile, Tennant and Nicholson said they’re pleased with the community input and commitment to the opposition.

“Whatever happens now, or in the future, friends of East Flat Rock is now united,” said Tennant. “Over 11,000 in a petition and over 2,000 on Facebook, so that is a significant number.”

“I understand people may not like something of an idea, but you need to base it off of something that’s factual,” said Shipman. “Not just because you just don’t want it.”

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