TODD-A wood-splitting operation in Todd has divided community members on whether or not the new enterprise should be allowed to continue in its current location.
At the center of this controversy is a firewood business owned and operated by Marlin Krider on Laurel Knob Road in the Mill Creek community.
His brother, Kerry Krider, has took issue with the location of the setup, claiming it causes excessive noise pollution in the early hours and is too close to their mother’s property. He said he’s also received similar complaints from second-home owners in the surrounding community.
Kerry also claims Marlin’s operation is operating illegally because it more closely resembles a sawmill instead of a simple firewood business and is too close to protected properties under current zoning regulations.
Under the county’s recently enacted high impact land use ordinance, sawmills must be regulated in that they can not be within 2,000 feet of protected properties, such as a church or school and not within a 1,000 feet from the property line.
Kerry wants the county to rule that his brother’s wood-splitting business is a sawmill. Such a determination would result in the forced relocation of Marlin’s business.
County Planner Adam Stumb has already ruled the Marlin’s operation does not meet the criteria of a sawmill because it does not provide wood finishing services.
“My interpretation of a sawmill definition was it is more of a lumber processing, finishing and planing of lumber products,” said Stumb.
Stumb ultimately determined Marlin’s setup does not meet the definition of a sawmill under the HILU because it doesn’t actually finish the lumber it is splitting.
“It’s pretty similar to a mechanized chainsaw that cuts firewood in lengths,” Stumb said of Marlin’s wood splitter.
When reached by phone Thursday afternoon, Marlin said there is no comparison between his business and a sawmill.
“A sawmill is permanent; mine is just part-time,” said Marlin Krider, who added much of the dispute is the residual effects of a bidding war with his brother over the family farm. “My business was there nine months before they passed the new HILU.”
Despite claims to the contrary, Marlin said he hasn’t heard any other complaints in the community except from his brother and one other person.
“It’s a family farm we’ve used for 50 years doing cattle and chickens,” Marlin said of the current site. “They’re going to have a hard time running me off unless they have a lot of money. I have a lot invested in this.”
In response to Stumb’s earlier ruling, Sharon Duvall, a cousin of the Kriders, is seeking an appeal of a letter issued to Marlin that essentially allowed him to operate. She is appealing the decision to the county’s board of adjustments in part because of the noise it creates.
Duvall also refuses to accept the county’s earlier ruling that Krider’s business is not a sawmill.
“The definition of a sawmill, according to the HILU, is a commercial facility where logs are processed into a finished wood product,” she said. “The stove wood he produces is a finished wood product. That’s where I’m coming from.”
Duvall further alleges the business has driven down property values in the neighborhood.
“It’s very noisy,” she said. “The saw is located 150 feet from my house. Another thing that is particularity noisy is the sound of the ‘beep, beep, beep’ of the dump trucks as they are backing in. That noise resonates 2,000 feet out because the neighbor that lives 2,000 feet away hears the beeping of the trucks. It starts up at 6 o’clock in morning. I don’t know how anyone can have any peace.”
By her estimates, Duvall counted 40 homes, a church and an assisted living facility within 2,000 feet of the operation. Should the board of adjustments rule that it is a sawmill, Marlin will be in violation of the setbacks and will be forced to move.
“If the board finds it is not a sawmill, I worry if another such facility could pop-up anywhere in the county in anyone’s backyard,” she said.
Duval’s appeal could serve as a precedent in future cases as it will be the first true challenge or test of the recently enacted HILU. Ultimately, the HILU replaced the old polluting industries ordinance in response to mounting opposition in the county to a proposed asphalt plant in the Glendale Springs community.
Attorney Jak Reeves is representing the county planning director in the matter.
The board of adjustments will hear the case at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 16 in the third floor of the Ashe County Courthouse in the small court room. The meeting is open to the public.
Reach Jesse Campbell at 336-846-7164.
Correction: A previous version of this article misstated Marlin Krider’s representation in this case.