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Board OKs rezoning application
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Linda Pulliam speaks to the Henry County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday during a public hearing on proposed a scrap-metal recycling plant and automobile junkyard at the former Ridgeway Clock facility. (Bulletin photo by Mike Wray)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

By FROM BULLETIN STAFF REPORTS -

After hearing comments from a dozen people, the majority of them against the proposal, the Henry County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved a rezoning application by D.H. Griffin Wrecking Co. Inc., which wants to operate a scrap metal recycling facility and automobile junkyard at the former Ridgeway Clock facility.

The supervisors approved a motion by Ridgeway District Supervisor H.G. Vaughn to rezone 18.4 acres at 1131 Mica Road in Ridgeway District from Industrial District I-1 to Limited Industrial District I-2.

Vaughn said D.H. Griffin Wrecking (DHGW) had offered to address some of his concerns about the operation, such as offering to shorten their hours of operation (to 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays; closed Sundays); and offered to plant Leland Cypress or similar trees along several sides of the proposed development.

He also said the company assured him that it would not transfer junk cars from its other operations to the proposed development. He said he was concerned about sales of parts, but the company said such sales are needed for profitability.

Vaughn pointed out that Limited Industrial District I-2 is more restrictive than the Industrial District I-1, which he said allows more than 50 types of industries and manufacturing. Limited Industrial District I-2 requires a special use permit issued by the Board of Zoning Appeals, and the BZA can set conditions, officials said.

Vaughn asked that the BZA set conditions to limit noise and the number of vehicles allowed on the property. The BZA will meet at 1 p.m. today in the Summerlin Meeting Room of the Henry County Administration Building.

A June 21 letter from the company states: “DHGW proposes to operate a scrap metals processing facility on the property in conjunction with an automobile ‘U-Pull-It’ parts yard. The facility will accept scrap metals and vehicles from the public. The scrap metals and junk cars will be promptly processed in an environmentally-friendly manner and shipped off-site to steel mills, such as the Steel Dynamics facility in Roanoke, to be recycled into steel for use in manufacturing new goods. Vehicles that have value for their parts will be inventoried and temporarily stored on-site for parts sales to retail customers. Once those vehicles no longer have value as sources for parts, they will be processed as scrap. Vehicles kept for parts will typically remain on-site no longer than 60-90 days.”

But in an Aug. 23 letter from DHGW general counsel Larry Gillen, the company offered, among other things, to “accept scrap vehicles and equipment and sell parts to the public that customers retrieve from the vehicles and equipment, but will not advertise the facility as a ‘U-Pull-It.’” Lee Clark, the county’s director of planning, zoning and inspections, told the supervisors Tuesday night that he didn’t consider that to really be a change from the original application.

During a public hearing on the proposed rezoning, critics said they fear the business would be noisy, an eyesore, lower property values, increase truck traffic (including on some roads they consider inadequate for such traffic), be unsafe for pedestrians, be incompatible with the largely residential area, disrupt the peace of the neighborhood, might cause environmental problems, wouldn’t create a lot of jobs and should be located in an industrial park, among other things.

Supporters of the rezoning said the business would bring needed jobs (eight to 10 full-time initially, the company has estimated); that DHGW is a reputable company with well-run facilities and is a good corporate citizen; that the business wouldn’t create a lot of truck traffic nor excessive noise; would be a supplier for other companies; is environmentally friendly; and that some opponents who had learned the facts are no longer opposed to the plan.

Linda Pulliam of Mica Road said she feels the business would be unsightly and have a tremendous amount of noise. She fears that some of the roads are inadequate for the increased truck traffic she believes would be generated and that pedestrians would be at risk. She also expressed concerns about upkeep of property, the stigma of a junkyard and that residents’ properties values would decrease.

She said she’s been to a junkyard in Stanleyville, N.C., and she saw nearby homes abandoned. “Please do not sacrifice us on the altar of big business,” she said.

Jay Frith of Frith Construction said D.H. Griffin Wrecking is “the best at what they do,” and he mentioned several projects as examples. “Are we business friendly?” he asked, and he said DHGW is “a great corporate citizen.”

Others who spoke against the rezoning were John Wyatt, Gary Hughes, David Laufenberg, Wayland Pulliam and Gary Comfort.

Others who spoke in favor of the rezoning were Douglas Jackson, Samuel Pearman, Allen Pearman and DHGW’s Gillen.

Speaker Sue Wyatt said some of her fears had been allayed; that if the company will be a good neighbor, she would be supportive; but the company should be mindful of residents’ concerns.

 

 
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