More revisions to Watauga County’s HILU ordinance

On October 21, the Watauga County commissioners revised the High Impact Land Use ordinance for the third time this year. Chip mills and electricity generating facilities (excluding wind and solar power farms) were moved into Category 1. Fuel bulk oil storage facilities were moved into Category 2.

Unfortunately, the county requires NO spacing requirements between homes and Category 2 & 3 HILU facilities. This means many high impact land use facilities can be built within 75 to 100 feet of a family’s property. That’s no protection at all from industries defined by the county as “high impact.”

Scenic Byways within the county are provided with very little setbacks from Category 2 & 3 HILU facilities. Under the current ordinance, automotive graveyards, bulk fuel oil storage facilities and other Category 2 facilities can be built with minimal (185 foot) setbacks from Scenic Byways and the Blue Ridge Parkway. The county specifies NO setbacks between Category 3 facilities and any road within the county.

As revised, all high impact land use facilities can locate within 100 feet of the county’s rivers and streams.

High Country WATCH will continue to press county officials to provide better protections for Watauga families, rivers and scenic byways from HILU facilities. We do not understand why county planners see no need to provide protections for homeowners from ALL types of HILU facilities.

Here are the categories as defined in the latest HILU ordinance:

  • Category 1. Asphalt Plants, Cement Mixing Facilities, Quarries/Stone Crushers, Chemical Manufacturing, Chemical Storage Facilities, Explosives Manufacturing, Explosives Storage Facilities, Chip Mills, and Electricity Generating Facilities (excluding Wind and Solar Power Farms).

  • Category 2. Automotive Graveyards, Propane, Gasoline, or Fuel Oil Bulk Storage Facilities, and Junk/Scrap Yards.

  • Category 3. Electric Substations, Commercial/Industrial Development with aggregate building footprint 50,000 square feet or greater, Recycling Facilities, and Solar Power Farms. (Note: Wind Power Farms are regulated by separate Watauga County Ordinance.)


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