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Mount Jackson fire company eyes site for new station

Mount Jackson Rescue and Fire volunteer Aaron Painter washes the department's ambulance outside the station on South Main Street on Wednesday. Members are seeking to build a new building beside James E. Zerkel Hardware Inc. Rich Cooley/Daily (Buy photo)

By Alex Bridges

MOUNT JACKSON -- Mount Jackson Rescue and Fire Company members say they hope to break ground on a new station this spring after a half-century of service to the area.

Town Council plans to hold a public hearing on the volunteer organization's request to rezone property owned by the company on Main Street, and for a special-use permit to build and operate a new facility on the site.

Council first heard about the proposal Tuesday night. Company President David Brinegar made a brief presentation to council on the proposal and gave members some statistical information from 2013. Brinegar noted that 2013 marked the company's 50th year serving the Mount Jackson area with a current membership of about 70 people.

The company currently uses the old school building at 6044 Main St. as its station. The organization pays a small amount to the town to lease the space, Brinegar said after the meeting. Brinegar also chairs the company's committee working on the project.

The company owns two parcels covering 2.765 acres zoned for industrial use just north of Zerkel Hardware on U.S. 11. Town Manager Kevin Fauber told council the industrial zone does not allow fire and rescue stations. So, as Fauber explained, the town would need to rezone the property to business use. The business-zoning district allows fire and rescue stations with an approved special-use permit, Fauber said. Council would need to approve the permit request.

The Planning Commission on Monday recommended that council set a public hearing April 7 for both the permit and rezoning requests because the organization wishes to proceed with the project soon, Fauber said.

The company wants to build a 10,000-square-foot building toward the front of the property to house its fire and rescue vehicles, Fauber said. An adjoining 5,000-square-foot building would house company personnel. A second facility of the same size behind the personnel space would serve as an events center.

Building plans show three phases of construction but organization representatives have expressed an interest in completing the project at one time, Fauber said.

"In looking at the drawings, there was some concern that it's showing an all-metal building," Fauber said. "In discussion with Mr. Brinegar, part of the building would have the split-phase block."

Councilman W. Todd Holtzman asked Brinegar about the project cost.

"I'm curious, since so many people support the Mount Jackson Fire and Rescue ... what is it going to cost to do this?" Holtzman asked.

Brinegar said the project would cost about $2 million. Holtzman then asked Brinegar about how the company came to the decision to leave its current home. A firm from Harrisonburg hired by the fire and rescue group advised members that it would cost more to renovate the current building than to build a new headquarters, Brinegar said.

"It would probably cost the money that we had in our pocket just to start the renovations and an additional $1.5 to $2 million just to renovate the property," Brinegar said.

Fauber's memo on the matter notes how town code and zoning regulations apply to the company's plans. The Virginia Department of Transportation provided comments to the town and the agency must ultimately sign off on the proposed access points.

VDOT approval of the entrance design is required as a condition of the special-use permit. The proposal includes the required curb, gutter and sidewalks, as well as handicapped access. The applicant also needs to discuss with town officials the landscaping and screening requirements not currently included in the plan.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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