Sniff sniff sniff. I smell a rat. Last night the BOCS voted unanimously to deny Eric Finley a Special use Permit to build an asphalt plant in Bristow, VA, near the Victory Lakes, Sheffield Manor, and Saybrooke subdivisions.
At last, the asphalt plant question has been settled. No asphalt plant for Mr. Finley, even though he was advised to purchase land in that area that had been zoned as heavy industrial. That zoning has been in effect for about 30 some years. Last spring, all but one member of the planning council had voted to approve Mr. Finley’s request.
The fly in the proverbial ointment seemed to be that the residents of Victory Lakes Community objected to having an asphalt plant so close to their homes. That makes sense too. NIMBY is a pretty common feeling, especially when one thinks about the possibility of being downwind from an asphalt plant. It beats a pig farm but not by much.
In addition to smelling a rat, I also see both sides. Mr. Finley’s land was zoned for heavy industrial use. Residents of Victory Lakes don’t want to live near an asphalt plant. Let’s take this issue back a few approvals. Why on earth would anyone build high density, expensive housing on a tract of land which butted up next to land zoned for heavy industry? Where was the buffer zone? Did the BOCS who approved the land for future homes in Victory Lakes have a clue that this might just become a problem?
The one caveat in the whole deal and the one caveat that bit Mr. Finley in his hindquarters was that the aspahlt plant required a Special Use Permit on top of the correct zoning. Apparently a Special Use Permit (SUP) is needed for all sorts of things like day care, large box buildings like a Lowes, churches, etc. It’s the county’s way of maintaining a little control over what goes in where.
I am not sure why the supervisors unanimously voted no. One has to ask why they have a planning commission. The planning commission voted to approve Mr. Finley’s request last spring. I assume that panning commission, an appointed group, had checked things out pretty thoroughly.
One has to ask why there is no buffer zoning between Victory Lakes and heavy industry zoning. One also has to ask who advised Mr. Finley to buy that land. Did he talk with anyone from the country, either elected, appointed or employeed?
The schools also need to get into the act. Are they not at all concerned about what is being built around them? Were any school board members there at that meeting last night? Victory Lakes Elementary is supposedly only a half mile from the former proposed alphalt plant site. ? Cheapest land isn’t necessarily the best land. How about a peep or two from them. Perhaps I missed it. George Mason Univerisity weighed in, advising not to approve the SUP. They cited traffic impact on attracting high tech business as a major reason.
Meanwhile, it was hard for me to take a side. Mr. Finley appeared to be willing to do whatever was required of him by the county to keep the environmental impact at a minimum. Why did he choose to buy land in that exact location? Did he check out what hoops he might have to jump through before being allowed to build his plant?
I can also see residential concerns. Additionally there is the concern about 1 asphalt plant and then wondering what comes next. An asphalt plant in close proximity can impact quality of life in ways seen (like huge trucks running you off the road) and unseen (environmental hazards, carcinogens, etc). What kinds of checks and balances exist to hold any company to doing what is says it will do environmentally?
Start asking the right questions and just watch the rats start to scurry.
Preliminary Story in News & Messenger