Planning Commission recommends permit for recycling plant

By Heather Michon

The Planning Commission has approved the recommendation for a special use permit that would allow the construction of a recycling facility near Zion Crossroads. 

The decision came at the end of a lengthy public hearing on Tuesday night (Jan. 10), the commission’s first meeting of the year.

Richmond-based demolition and recycling company S.B. Cox has proposed a 16-acre facility on a 90-acre site off Memory Lane capable of handling up to 1,000 tons of material per day. Demolition debris would be brought to the site and recyclable materials like concrete, steel, and untreated wood would be manually separated out in an enclosed structure. Company attorney Ann Neal Cosby said very little material will be held on site after the sorting process is completed.

Residents of Memory Lane and the nearby Fox Glen subdivision shared their concerns about the impact of this facility on their quality of life. Memory Lane, in particular, could see up to 100 dump trucks a day rolling up and down their road.

Cosby said the company had made a list of proffers to the county, including a 100-foot tree buffer around the entire 90-acre site and low lighting. She produced a map showing that the closest homes to the site are about one-third of a mile from the proposed main sorting building. 

While two members of the public gave relatively positive comments about the project and S.B. Cox as a company, the concerns about the project’s impact were the major theme of the public hearing.

David Gourley said his property on Buck Ridge Road was within the 100-foot buffer shown on the site map and questioned whether the property had actually been surveyed. “I say the survey is inaccurate, that this site plan is inaccurate.” He also wondered why water and sewer lines did not appear on the map.

Following a somewhat tense exchange between Gourley and Commissioner Barry Bibb, County Attorney Fred Payne clarified that the special use permitting process was a “legislative act,” and the map was only a concept plan for the site. A detailed site plan map would be developed if the permit was granted and the project moved forward. 

Katie Gar Ward and her husband, Walker, both spoke in opposition to the permit. 

“So here we are again,” she said. “And I am once again asking you to please listen to the most impacted residents of this special use permit. The desire for industry is wreaking havoc on the lives of families on Buck Ridge Road, Fox Glen, and Route 250.”

Bibb said he had toured S.B. Cox’s Richmond plant, which is very close to a residential area, and he stressed that he had heard very little noise coming from the processing plant itself, even from a crushing machine that grinds up concrete. “It was very well operated and the people that were working there seemed very satisfied.”

To the many speakers that had lamented the loss of rural properties and favorite old hunting grounds, Bibb added: “I rode down South Boston Road the other day and my family’s property is now a Dollar Store and a Tractor Supply and storage buildings. That was my favorite hunting spot. But my mom and her sister sold it and it’s been developed. I miss that hunting spot, but progress goes on.”

The motion to approve the recommendation of the special use permit passed by a vote of 4-0 with Commissioner Mike Goad absent for the evening. The issue next goes before the Board of Supervisors for a final vote. 

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