The Botetourt Board of Supervisors gave the nod that will allow Boxley Materials to build a temporary asphalt plant on part of 20 acres in Gala after company officials made proffers that at least quelled concerns about potential damage to the nearby James River should it flood.
The supervisors made a point of noting the information and proffers Boxley representatives brought to their meeting last week was more detailed and different from what the Botetourt Planning Commission voted on earlier in September.
The Planning Commission recommended 3-2 against the Boxley rezoning request and special exceptions permit that would allow for the asphalt plant.
The supervisors voted 4-0 to rezone the property and allow the SEP — but only with proffers that will require Boxley and landowner Gala Farm LLC to apply to have the property zoned back to agriculture use and limits the use of the plant to the US 220 reconstruction project that Boxley will supply asphalt for.
The proffers also include provisions that require a berm around the plant site and moves the plant itself out of the 100-year flood plain.
Boxley Materials Co. applied to lease 20 acres of a 152.691-acre tract that belongs to Gala Farm LLC if it is rezoned from the Agricultural (A-1) Use District to the Industrial (M-3) Use District for the asphalt plant.
The company was also seeking a special exception permit (SEP) for individual well and septic systems on the property.
Boxley Materials will be providing asphalt for the safety improvements on US 220 that are supposed to get under way next spring.
Boxley representatives had updated their presentation and included the new proffers for the Board of Supervisors’ public hearing on their request.
Ken Arthur, who will manage the asphalt plant, convinced the supervisors that liquid asphalt itself will harden too quickly to create problems for the James River should there be a significant flood event. Diesel fuel stored at the site will pose more of a problem, but will be easier to remove— although he said the company will remove the liquid asphalt should there be concerns about a flooding event.
Arthur told the supervisors the company has emergency response plans to address any problems, and representatives from the company Boxley uses for spills told the supervisors they are well regulated and equipped to deal with any challenges that arise— although they expected none.
Boxley representatives told the supervisors that the plant will likely operate only about 50 days a year during the road improvement project that’s expected to last up to four years.
Several area residents spoke during the public hearing and offered their environmental concerns about locating an asphalt plant in that area, but also said they appreciated Boxley’s effort to address concerns that arose during the Planning Commission meeting.
Still, the company didn’t get ringing support from those residents.
Steve Vaughn of Eagle Rock worried that “there’s something going on here we can’t see. It’s a lot of trouble for a plant only six miles away (from other property Boxley owns on US 220 south of Eagle Rock).”
John Goss of Troutville cautioned the supervisors to consider Boxley’s motives. “Boxley wants to make money, which is great,” he said, but noted all the environmental concerns, that the plant will be next to a large wetlands, next to the James River which is a designated Scenic River that has its own economic benefits, and concern for environmental damage from a storm.
“The future is what we really don’t know,” Goss told the supervisors. “It’s up to you to weigh the environmental aspect with Boxley’s desire to make more money.”
Colby Trammell’s questions about what “substantial compliance with the site plan” prompted the supervisors to have Boxley and the county attorney write a proffer to be sure the site plan Boxley presented at the meeting was included as a condition of the rezoning. That plan showed the asphalt plant and 30,000-gallon liquid asphalt storage out of the 100-year flood plain.
The public hearing discussion also brought up an issue for Supervisor Todd Dodson, who wondered if the county zoning ordinance should be amended to address temporary uses like the asphalt plant rather than have to go through a rezoning, and then have a proffer to require the property owner to seek a rezoning back to the original zoning district.
Having something like that in the zoning ordinance could allow the supervisors to have more control over situations like this where “spot zoning” is currently the only option.
The supervisors, in turn, wanted it to be clear that the rezoning was for a temporary plant, and Gala Farm LLC principal Richard Thompson assured them he had no other plans other than to have the property revert to Agriculture A-1.
For Supervisors Chair Jack Leffel, the issue was personal. He was involved in getting the first section of the James River declared a Scenic River back in the mid-1980s, protecting it from a proposed small hydroelectric dam.
“This has been a very hard thing for me,” he said. “I’ve revered the river all my life and lived on it for 35 years…. After the Planning Commission meeting, I would have voted against it.”
He said he was concerned it would not revert to A-1 and worried about the river, but he said with Boxley’s proffers, he believes the risk to the river is minimal and he believes Boxley and Thompson are committed to doing what they said they’re going to do.
Supervisor John Williamson III said he believes the project does meet the goals of the county’s Comprehensive Plan because improvements to US 220 are part of that plan.
Dodson agreed despite concerns over spot zoning.
Supervisor Mac Scothorn said he believes the plant location will also minimize concerns over added truck traffic on US 220 should the asphalt have to be hauled further.
In another zoning matter, the supervisors rezoned and approved and an SEP for Altec Industries Inc.’s property at Botetourt Center at Greenfield.
The company asked to rezone all of its 49.99 acres from the Industrial (M-2) Use District to a Research and Advanced Manufacturing District (RAM) Use District.
Rezoning the property to a RAM District makes it more flexible and brings all of it in line with zoning in the rest of the industrial park. The county created the RAM District a few years ago to provide a district that allows research and manufacturing in one facility— a more common industrial use these days. At the time, the Board of Supervisors also rezoned much of Greenfield to the RAM District. Since Altec was already in place with the M-2 zoning, it was not affected by the changes to the rest of the industrial park.
The company was also granted an SEP that will allow for outdoor testing on various parts of the site as needed.
The supervisors also approved a request by Janet K. and Del E. Montgomery to rezone 1.8 acres of a 2.274-acre lot from the Agricultural (A-1) Use District to the Rural Residential (RR) Use District in order to maintain an existing single-family dwelling at 4519 Catawba Road, Troutville, near the intersection of Blacksburg Road.