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Carolina Operator ÀstacksÌ Libel Allegations In Suit Against New-Plant Opponents

Blue Ridge Concrete, Inc. (BRC) is seeking a temporary restraining order against North Buncombe Association of Concerned Citizens (NBACC), alleging in a complaint that the group and its president perpetuated libelous statements and artwork on a Web site, www.nbacc.info, aimed at squelching the ready mixed producer’s construction of a Weaverville, N.C., plant

Sources: North Carolina Superior Court Division, Buncombe County, District 28, Asheville; Patla, Straus, Robins & Moore, P.A., Asheville; CP staff

Blue Ridge Concrete, Inc. (BRC) is seeking a temporary restraining order against North Buncombe Association of Concerned Citizens (NBACC), alleging in a complaint that the group and its president perpetuated libelous statements and artwork on a Web site, www.nbacc.info, aimed at squelching the ready mixed producer's construction of a Weaverville, N.C., plant. The new facility would add to ready mixed properties BRC's Savannah, Ga.-based proprietor, Mark Turner, has established in Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee.

Subject to a hearing after a 30-day period for defendantsÌ response to the complaint, the proposed order would require NBACC to discontinue dissemination of a) an image showing a Blue Ridge Concrete-labeled mixer ramming a school bus; and, b) a letter from association president and Weaverville resident Aaron Pohl-Zaretsky to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson describing the company as owned by an individual with other out-of-state plants that have several environmental complaints against them. BRC counsel contends defendants knew the mixer-bus collision image and statement were false upon distributing them. Beyond the restraining order, the plaintiff seeks preliminary and permanent injunction enjoining the defendants from any further distribution of the image and the Pohl-Zaretsky letter.

As of June 7, the image and EPA letter link have been removed from their prominent placement at www.nbacc.info, which now bears a claim, CENSORED! Until Blue Ridge Libel Suit is Won! and a composite image with two smoke stacks and a man using an inhaler. The new image plays on the letter's curious framing of ready mixed production: In his plea to the country's top environmental official, Pohl-Zaretsky contends the BRC plant would bear a stack from which toxic effluent would blow directly into the bedroom of the nearest of 13 homes in the site's immediate vicinity. Most homes ÷ are inhabited by low-income elderly and/or families with young children, the author tells Administrator Jackson. Residents include individuals who have serious pulmonary diseases, rely on supplemental oxygen and, Pohl-Zaretsky laments, would be forced to move if the plant were permitted.