Fortune 500 company headed to Fluvanna

Fortune 500 company headed to Fluvanna


By Christina Dimeo, editor

A Fortune 500 company is on its way to Fluvanna County.

The Board of Supervisors Wednesday night (March 28) unanimously approved a special use permit to allow LKQ Corporation, an auto reclamation company, to open a facility off Route 250 near Zion Crossroads.

The proposal was met with hot resistance from several neighbors in the nearby Fox Glen subdivision and surrounding areas, who believe the facility doesn’t belong near their homes.

Over 50 people filled the benches in the Fluvanna Circuit Courtroom – a record turn-out by recent standards – to watch the proceedings and voice their opinions.

During public comments, 16 people spoke up – nine of them opposed to the facility and seven in favor.

Matt Caddy of LKQ explained to supervisors how his company’s facilities work.

Located on 90 acres along Memory Lane, LKQ’s new site will consist of a 100,000-square foot building with a parking area and a large storage yard. Parked in the yard are cars that, for one reason or another, are no longer wanted. They sit in the yard, chock-full of parts that are often in demand by people who can’t or don’t want to buy new parts for their own cars.

Most of these cars are 10 years old or newer, Caddy said. Parts from cars older than 10 years aren’t in nearly as much demand.

When everything that can be is salvaged from these cars, or “assets,” as LKQ representative Scott Haley called them, LKQ crushes them and sends them on for further metal recycling. The yard is kept clean and neat with cars in orderly rows.

Operations inside the facility, which covers a fraction of the 90-acre parcel of land, can operate 24 hours a day. The building will be lit, and pickup trucks will shuttle around the yard continually as workers seek the parts they need. Car crushing takes place regularly, and yes, said Caddy – it makes a lot of noise.

Nearby residents who showed up weren’t happy at the prospect of their new neighbor.

Old cars sitting around will inevitably lead to leaking toxic fluids, Dawn Zanfardino said. Those fluids will impact nearby streams and the aquifer, and air pollution may result as the facility ventilates. What’s more, she said, the facility will create “constant noise.”

Rob Zanfardino had concerns about the smell. And Salvatore Zambito, who said the permit request looked like a done deal, pushed for restrictions to mitigate the noise drifting into his neighbors’ backyards. He also asked for increased fencing and restrictions on the lighting.

“I hope that you work with us since we’re going to have to live with this,” Zambito said.

Jeff Wagner appealed to supervisors to consider the issue more personally. “Would you want to live there?” he asked. “Would you want your son or daughter to live there, or your grandkids?”

Property values in the neighborhood could plunge as a result of the facility, Bill Zimmerman said. Charles Hess spoke of the impact another industrial use has had on his ability to sell his home. Prospective buyers love the house, he said, but won’t consider moving in so close to heavy machinery.

Katie Gar Ward said that residents never really had a chance to stop the process, since LKQ’s move to Fluvanna has been in the works for at least a year. “We were robbed of our right to have our voices and concerns legitimately heard and addressed before a legislative action was taken,” she said. “The plan was already in motion, and nothing we could have said to anybody would have made a difference.”

Last July supervisors agreed to design an extension to the Zion Crossroads water line that would run down Memory Lane, where LKQ will be located, though they have not made a decision on whether to turn that design into reality. The cost of designing the extension was $51,330; the estimated construction cost for the extension is $663,300.

But several Fluvanna residents spoke in favor of the new business.

“We have been having this conversation now for decades, trying to bring the balance of the tax burden in line between community and residential,” said Rudy Garcia, president of the Chamber of Commerce. Not only that, he said, but LKQ will bring 40 or 50 new jobs to the county. “Approving this will allow other companies to know that we’re open for business.” 

LKQ brings more to the table than jobs and tax money alone, said Peter van der Linde, owner of Van der Linde Recycling in Zion Crossroads. “It’s a credit to the efforts of the entire Fluvanna County staff to attract a company of this caliber,” he said. “Fluvanna gave me a chance 10 years ago – something I remain very thankful for. And I hope you give them the chance to prove themselves a good corporate neighbor as well.”

Trey Dillard, owner of A.G. Dillard, a building and contracting company also located on Memory Lane, said that when he moved his business to that area, he thought others would soon follow. “It’s been 12 years and we still are the only business in that business park,” he said. Bringing in a business that fosters the kinds of jobs that LKQ performs will increase the availability of skilled workers for his company, he said.

Up until last year, Cosner Brothers operated a salvage yard on the same property on which LKQ will now build. When Tom Payne, former Fluvanna supervisor, saw the Fox Glen subdivision under construction about a decade ago, he predicted the houses would never sell because of that junkyard.

“The junkyard didn’t move in on the subdivision; the subdivision moved in on the junkyard,” Payne said. He then called LKQ “a completely different operation” than Cosner Brothers.

“People say, ‘We want to keep Fluvanna green,’” Payne said. “I’d love to keep Fluvanna green, but we need some other kind of green in Fluvanna. That green actually has a dollar mark on it, creates jobs [and] creates a cash base other than the citizens.”

Roger Stevens, who owns 17.5 acres in Fluvanna, said his taxes were $42 a year when he bought his property. Now they’re $800 a year.

“There has to be a change in revenue production,” he said. “Nobody wants a firehouse in their yard till their house is on fire.”

After the public hearing, supervisors hashed out conditions for the special use permit in an attempt to accommodate the concerns they heard. They limited work hours outside in the yard and when LKQ can crush cars. They added to the buffer requirements in the area that will separate LKQ from its residential neighbors. And they directed LKQ to make an annual $500 contribution to Streamwatch to support water quality and contamination monitoring.

Most of the public left before the conditions were put in place. One observer said the amount of attention supervisors were spending on condition negotiations showed that they intended to pass the permit.

Sure enough, when it was time to vote, all five supervisors approved the permit. 

“I think it’s a good company and I think that it’s necessary,” said Supervisor Trish Eager after the vote. “We have cars that get wrecked and they need reclamation. This saves a lot of cars that would just be left elsewhere. Look around the county – there are a lot of dead cars. I think it’s a necessary part of life.”

Eager toured an LKQ facility in Pennsylvania in January to help prepare for this vote.

“We always try to accommodate the people when they come in with their concerns,” said Supervisor Mozell Booker. “The thing that bothers me the most is when people make statements when they don’t have the facts. They go on what they feel or what they think, and it makes you look like you’re not doing your job – you really didn’t spend enough time on this – you’re doing something behind our back. Those things bother me.

“I want the vision of the supervisors to be seen,” she continued. “We’ve got to do with congeniality and a good rationale. We’re going to be having more meetings like this as more businesses come.” 

“This is going to be a great business for Fluvanna County,” said Supervisor Tony O’Brien. “I think at the end of the day we will recognize LKQ in the same way we recognize Tenaska [power generating station] as a partner that benefits our community and adds value. And more importantly, it reinforces the vision that the Board has been stating over the last several years – working toward bringing economic development to help balance the tax base, which is really so important in maintaining competitiveness with surrounding counties and making Fluvanna a place where we can succeed and grow.”


Supervisors also unanimously denied a rezoning request from Carroll Morris on land adjacent to both Fox Glen and LKQ’s new location.

Morris requested a rezoning of 29.4 acres from agricultural to industrial for an unspecified use.

Many of the same neighbors complained of noises that woke them in the middle of the night and early in the morning. County staff played two videos taken by a neighbor so supervisors could get an idea of the level of noise.

Morris has already been found in violation of Fluvanna zoning ordinances for issues such as loud truck noises, welding, having a camper in which someone appears to be living parked on the property, and the appearance of junk vehicles on the land, according to county staff. The notice of violation was issued Feb. 14. Morris has appealed to the Board of Zoning Appeals and has a hearing in May.

“If he is disregarding the rules now, he’s going to disregard the rules no matter what you do,” said neighbor Kary Clarke as she urged the Board to deny the rezoning.

Four residents spoke against the rezoning. No one spoke in favor.

Supervisors clearly felt differently about Morris’ rezoning than they did about LKQ’s special use permit.

Approving the rezoning would necessitate “trust [in] the person behind it to do the follow-through on what they say they’re going to do,” said O’Brien.

Booker agreed. If the county tried to put in place safeguards to correct the violations, “I can’t say that the owner would follow those rules,” she said. “So I don’t feel comfortable approving it. I don’t have any feeling that it can be a good situation.” 

Supervisors unanimously denied the rezoning.

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