Board denies request for new waste permit

By Katie Demeria

WOODSTOCK — A recent request made by Mountain View Rendering LLC, located in Edinburg, was denied by a split Shenandoah County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.

The company proposed an amendment to its special use permit that would have allowed it to accept and process material from two other facilities, in Broadway and Moorefield, West Virginia, during emergencies such as machinery breaking down.

The company already accepts product from George’s Chicken, which operates as a separate entity but is located next to Mountain View Rendering at 173 Rocco Road.

Supervisors Dick Neese, Steven Baker and Conrad Helsley voted in favor of the amendment. Cindy Bailey, Marsha Shruntz and Chairman David Ferguson voted against.

Bailey and Shruntz have raised objections over the proposal since the Planning Commission’s public hearing on Aug. 7. Concerned residents spoke against the amendment, along with members of the Friends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River.

Most objections stemmed from the ability of George’s Chicken’s water treatment plant to handle the additional loads without causing harm to Stoney Creek. The company has dealt with water quality violations in the past.

“This is not right,” Shruntz said during the meeting. “We need to have more oversight of what goes on at George’s, and this reflects on Mountain View Rendering.”

It was unclear how Ferguson would vote until Tuesday’s meeting, as he did not comment when the issue was discussed during the Aug. 26 evening meeting.

He prefaced his concerns by pointing out that the company is an important economic stimulus for the county.

“We appreciate what you do,” Ferguson said, directing his comment toward the Mountain View Rendering representatives who attended the meeting.

“I do not want to open the door to bringing waste into Shenandoah County to be processed and discharged in our streams here,” he said, adding later that he considers it “a slippery slope.”

Last Thursday, Shenandoah Riverkeeper Jeff Kelble also joined the debate, sending board members a letter asking them to deny the request.

“The proposed amendment would allow the facility to take rendering products from multiple facilities at unpredictable times and in unpredictable quantities, which could compromise wastewater treatment capacity at George’s Chicken, threatening further harm to water quality in [Stoney] Creek,” Kelble stated in the letter.

The letter details ammonia violations George’s dealt with in August 2012 and again in October and November of the same year. Kelble pointed out that the plant still does not know what “toxic chemical” entered the system and caused the issues in the creek.

Neese, Baker and Conrad all spoke favorably of the company’s request, saying that if the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality has no current issues with George’s, nor should the board.

“I don’t think it’s up to the county to tell the DEQ how to run their business,” Neese said, adding that the board should support local businesses.

Baker called it the “neighborly thing to do,” as extra product would only be introduced in cases of emergency.

During his explanation, Ferguson said he does not believe the plant will be hurt by the board’s decision to deny its request.

Mountain View Rendering’s General Manager Jason Janita declined to comment.

Contact staff writer Katie Demeria at 540-465-5137 ext. 155, or kdemeria@nvdaily.com