By Alex Bridges
Warren County leaders delayed action on an asphalt plant permit over questions of covering the cost for a future traffic signal.
Stuart M. Perry Inc. requested a conditional-use permit to operate a batch-mix asphalt plant. The company plans to upgrade its existing asphalt plant at 1111 Riverton Road.
The Board of Supervisors held a public hearing on the request. The board heard from John McKinney, of Queen's Highway, who voiced concerns over environmental monitoring of the plant.
The board then voted to table the request until Dec. 1.
Evan Wyatt, of Greenway Engineering, presented information to the board on the proposed upgrades. Wyatt explained that the upgrades would help the environment. The new equipment complies with Department of Environmental Quality regulations.
Asked whether Perry would mind if the board delayed action on the permit, Wyatt said the company preferred that supervisors act now because asphalt plants typically shut down at this time of year. Perry planned to use the downtime to install the new equipment before production resumes in the spring.
Wyatt said the company would agree to a condition that would calculate the pro-rated cost by using traffic counts.
Carter said the board should move forward and hold the hearing out of fairness to the applicant. At the same time, Carter recommended that parties should consult with the Virginia Department of Transportation to determine a fair formula to calculate Perry's share of the cost of a future traffic signal.
"I also don't want to have all the rest of the county citizens to have to pay for an impact that they weren't entirely responsible for, even though you all are going to be good partners, we're glad to have you," Carter said.
Carter suggested that the board could hold the hearing and then table the matter until its next meeting Dec. 3. Wyatt said he doubted that VDOT could come up with the necessary information in two weeks. Deputy County Administrator Robert Childress, formerly with VDOT, echoed Wyatt. Childress suggested that county staff would need to work with the applicant on a fair amount or formula.
Planning Director Taryn Logan said the company bought the plant in 2009. The plant has operated at the quarry since the 1960s. By upgrading the equipment, Perry expects to increase plant efficiency and improve environmental controls, Logan said. Perry has two employees on site and the company does not plan to hire more workers. Perry proposes to operate the plant Monday through Saturday for 12 hours each day.
The Board of Supervisors previously approved an amendment to the county zoning ordinance to include batch-mix asphalt plants as allowable in the industrial district with a conditional-use permit.
But VDOT, in comments submitted to the county, voiced concerns with the impact the heavy trucks might have on the intersection at Guard Hill Road and U.S. 340-522. Trucks carrying asphalt and limestone would weigh more on the road than passenger vehicles.
Planning Commission members said the number of vehicles going in and out of the plant would not prompt the need for the company to share in the cost to install a traffic signal at the site.
Vice Chairwoman Linda Glavis noted that traffic at the intersection has been an issue for years.
The Planning Commission endorsed the permit request with several conditions that cover lighting, signs directing emergency responders to the site and that the portable toilet has a hand-washing feature.
Board Chairman Archie Fox asked about plans to move a traffic signal from Crooked Run Road and the area of the McDonald's restaurant and the Hampton Inn to the nearby commuter parking lot.
County Administrator Douglas Stanley said staff is working with VDOT to shift cost-sharing funds to the commuter lot. The project will lose the cost-sharing contributions from McDonald's and the Hampton Inn, Stanley said.
"The question is going to become, ultimately, when does the Guard Hill Road intersection warrant signalization," Stanley said.
Wyatt told the board that VDOT's traffic data for U.S. 340-522 in 2012 showed an average of 20,000 vehicle trips per day. Guard Hill Road as a side street had about 1,100-1,200 vehicle trips per day. Perry's operation would add about 75 vehicle trips per day to the road.
Supervisor Tony Carter pointed out that VDOT's concerns focused more on the weight of the trucks that would travel through the intersection. Carter recalled the issue of heavy trucks that use Reliance Road.
Supervisor Daniel Murray Jr. said the upgrade would clean up the site. Murray said he didn't see the need for another traffic signal if VDOT moves the light to the commuter light. Fox said he could understand the need for a light at the lot to handle truck traffic for the quarry.
Logan said that VDOT and the county could look at determining a pro-rated share of the cost for the signal but the formula would use traffic data and does not take into consideration the type of vehicle.
Childress said the agency could come back and say the traffic warrants the installation of a traffic signal. VDOT would need to calculate how many passenger vehicles equal a truck. An easier method, Childress said, could involve setting a flat percentage of the cost as the company's share. But putting a price now on a signal that would not be built for years may not be an accurate cost.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org