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Supervisors take first step toward controversial auto salvage facility

The Fluvanna County Board of Supervisors voted Wednesday night (Dec. 20) to approve the rezoning of a 90-acre parcel off Route 250 in Troy, clearing the path for the construction of a 100,000-square foot automobile recycling facility.

The land, which encompasses the former Cosner Brothers salvage yard and extends behind the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, was previously zoned for agricultural use. Its current owner, Amber Hills LLC, requested it be rezoned for general industrial use.

A dozen residents from the area surrounding the proposed facility spoke during a lengthy public hearing before the vote.

Most were opposed to the rezoning effort, citing concerns about noise, traffic, light pollution, environmental impact, and worries about losing more of the essentially rural character of Fluvanna County.

One of the most passionate opponents was Fluvanna native Katie Ward.

Currently serving with the U.S. Air Force, Ward and her husband bought a 70-acre property from Amber Hills in July in anticipation of their upcoming retirement. Located next door to her parents, they saw the land as a place where they could enjoy the “simplicity, beauty, and peace” of Fluvanna County.

They did not realize the company was planning on developing a salvage yard in what will be their new backyard.

“I’ll buy the whole property. The whole 90 acres,” she told the supervisors. She urged them not to sacrifice former farmland to industrial use.

The facility will be built by LKQ Corporation, which is described on its website as a “leading provider of alternative and specialty parts to repair and accessorize automobiles and other vehicles,” with recycling facilities in North America, Europe, and Taiwan.

Matthew Caddy, LKQ’s district manager for Northeast operations, assured supervisors that this would not be a traditional salvage yard where junk cars sit decaying in a field. 

LKQ purchases recent model cars and processes them in high-tech facilities before shipping recovered parts to distribution hubs along the East Coast. 

He pushed back against some of the community concerns, saying the site would probably only require 60 to 70 acres, leaving a wide buffer for local homes and businesses. The site would not be lit at night, and crushing of cars would only take place a couple days a month during business hours.  

“We try to make as little environmental impact as possible,” Caddy added.

The company is planning on spending $8 million to $10 million on the proposed facility and believes it will create 35 to 40 local jobs and process around 10,000 vehicles annually.

Scott Haley, a developer for LKQ, said they “don’t choose sites haphazardly,” and believed they would be “good corporate citizens” for Fluvanna.

“I think this is a very close call,” Supervisor Don Weaver said at the close of the hearing. “I will support it with great reservation.”

Supervisor Patricia Eager, who represents the Palmyra District and lives not far from the proposed site, was sensitive to her constituents’ concerns, but had to balance that against the county’s need for development.

“We’ve been hesitant to let businesses come here” in the past, she said. “We’ve even had a bad reputation because of it.”

“We are moving, people,” Supervisor Mozell Booker told the audience. “This county is moving forward.” 

The motion passed 4-0 (Supervisor Mike Sheridan absent).

“How can you do this to us,” Ward yelled out from her seat in the audience. “We voted for you!” As Booker called for order, a bailiff escorted a tearful Ward from the courtroom.  

The public will have another opportunity to voice concerns when the developer files for a special use permit sometime next year. 

Upgrades for sheriff office, first responders

The Fluvanna County Sheriff’s Office requested $73,295 for a new surveillance and access control system. Capt. Von Hill told supervisors that “the current system is failing,” leaving parts of the building poorly surveilled.

Lake Monticello Fire & Rescue Squad (LMVFRS) requested $14,735 for the purchase of a Lucas 3 Chest Compression System. The device would be used in the administration of CPR, providing uninterrupted chest compressions during emergency transport. LMVFRS is considering requesting multiple units in its fiscal year 2019 budget, but would like to start with one unit for field testing.

Purchasing Officer Cyndi Toler also recommended the county invest in the ImageTrend Elite, an upgraded version of freeware provided to police, fire, and rescue by the state. The upgrade would streamline state-mandated reporting and simplify billing; it would also be compatible with the computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system the county will be bringing online in early 2018.

The setup cost for the system is $29,750 and annual maintenance will be around $20,000.

The supervisors approved all three motions 4-0.

In other matters, The Light Academy won approval for a special use permit allowing it to use the former Cunningham School building as a K-12 educational facility. The final sale of the building was completed earlier in December.