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BZA OKs special use permit

Thursday, August 29, 2013

By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin staff writer

The Henry County Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA) on Wednesday unanimously approved a special use permit, with eight conditions, for D.H. Griffin Wrecking Co. Inc. (DHGW), which wants to operate a scrap metal recycling facility and automobile junkyard at the former Ridgeway Clock facility.

The Henry County Board of Supervisors approved a rezoning request for Griffith on Tuesday. However, it still needed approval of a special use permit by the BZA.

The BZA-imposed conditions are:

• The special use permit must be exercised within two years.

• Certain lots north and south of the office property near the entrance to the DHGW property on Mica Road, if developed, have to meet fencing requirements (fence or hedge) for auto graveyards.

• Regulations regarding screening, such as minimum side and rear yards, will apply if residential development takes place in certain sections of the property.

It also says, “The Zoning Administrator may require an appropriate type of screen planting at the side or rear property lines for buffering when properties are adjoining or adjacent to residential or agricultural districts.”

• Since the county’s noise ordinance does not address machinery noise, any change in the business operation that involves the addition of a “shredder” or “crusher” shall require a public hearing and review of the special use permit by the Board of Zoning Appeals.

• There shall be no lit sign at the front of the property near the office building.

• A screen fence shall be installed along Mica Road, to be approved by the planning director.

• There shall be no stacking of cars that would enable them to be visible from Mica Road.

• Filters shall be installed at all drop inlets to remove contaminants.

BZA member Manker Stone also strongly recommended that D.H. Griffin Wrecking have its tractor-trailers enter and exit its property this way: U.S. 220 to Main Street to Mica Road to the property, and vice versa to avoid a residential area.

Kent Baltzer of DHGW said its tractor trailers could do that. Stone’s recommendation, however, would not affect the routes customers choose to get to the property.

The conditions the BZA set are in addition to conditions DHGW offered to the county in a letter Aug. 23 and that now are legally binding with the board of supervisors’ decision to rezone the 18.4 acres at 1131 Mica Road in Ridgeway District from Industrial District I-1 to Limited Industrial District I-2.

Those four conditions are:

• “DHGW will plant Leland Cypress (or similar) trees along the east (i.e., railroad right of way), south (i.e., bordering Pearman property up to Peanut Road right-of-way), and north (i.e. bordering Blanch Young property), sides of the proposed development, approximately 8-foot on center.”

• DHGW will limit its hours of operation to Mondays through Fridays, 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. (closed Sundays).

• “DHGW will accept scrap vehicles and equipment and sell parts to the to the public that customers retrieve from the vehicles and equipment but will not advertise the facility as a ‘U-Pull-It.’”

• DHGW will paint the tall water tank/tower in company colors/logos and will maintain the coatings in good condition at all times, reasonable wear and tear excepted.

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.”

However, several residents expressed concerns about things such as noise, aesthetics, the potential of gas and other liquids to leak, roads that are inadequate for the size of trucks traveling to the proposed facility, increased traffic, the “negative impact and stigma of the facility as opposed to its benefits,” the upkeep of the property and that the proposed business could be detrimental to the value of adjoining or nearby properties, according to a letter and petition signed by some affected landowners.

During a public hearing at the BZA meeting, Samuel Pearman and son Allen Pearman spoke in favor of the proposal to issue a special use permit, and Linda Pulliam and her husband, Wayland Pulliam, spoke against it.

Samuel Pearman, who owns property adjacent to the DHGW property, said the project would bring new industry to the county and that DHGW would be a good neighbor. “I fully support it 100 percent,” he said.

Allen Pearman said that when the manufacturing plant operated on the property previously there was a lot of racket, but, “you get used to it.” He also said he thinks DHGW would work well with law enforcement, and that the business would be “a win, win for us.”

The Pulliams, who live across from where the vehicles will be entering and exiting the DHGW property, expressed concerns about esthetics, the adequacy of screenings, increased traffic, safety risks for pedestrians, whether roads would be adequate for tractor-trailers, the stigma of junkyards and opposition by people in the area. They said the business should not be placed in what is predominantly a residential area,

The Pulliams suggested that the entrance to the property should be Peanut Road rather than Mica Road to help avoid residential areas. Lee Clark, the county’s director of planning, zoning and inspections, said Peanut Road would have to be lowered and at least one structure removed for that to happen.

The BZA took no action on the Pulliams’ request.

Stone and fellow BZA member Paul Setliff said the DHGW project should be considered a scrap recycling center and not a junkyard.

However, it meets that definition of junkyard under the county zoning ordinance.

Kent Baltzer of DHGW said vehicles and other scrap materials will not be kept on the site for long times because the company needs a fast turnover for cash flow. He also said it will be a U-pull yourself operation, orderly, well run, with extensive record keeping and other security measures that can help the community too.

Larry Gillen, general counsel for DHGW, has said it anticipates no more than two of its tractor-trailers would enter/exit the property per day and there would be fewer than 100 customers a day. He has said DHGW’s scrap processing operations do not generate noises loud enough to disturb neighbors. He said the project “will not be an appreciable burden on existing roadways in the area.”

Several BZA members said they have been to DHGW facilities and they were impressed. BZA member Robert Clark said DHGW is “very, very reputable”; it wants “to be a good neighbor” and to bring needed jobs to the area; and “I have nothing but the highest praise for what I’ve heard about them.”

Clark said any aggrieved party could appeal the BZA’s decision to the circuit court within 30 days.

 

 
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