Natural gas station coming to Warren

By Alex Bridges

FRONT ROYAL — Warren County soon will be home to the first natural gas station in the region’s Interstate 81 corridor.

The Board of Supervisors took steps this week to allow Shen Valley LLC and InterChange Group to build and operate a compressed, natural gas fueling station off U.S. 340-522 north of Front Royal. The board voted 5-0 to approve Shen Valley LLC’s request for a conditional-use permit required to build the station on property it owns north of Toray Drive.

InterChange plans to pursue use of the “green” technology for its own fleet of trucks but also to make compressed natural gas available to the public. The location lies close to existing natural gas lines and Interstates 66 and 81. No such stations operate within 50 miles of the proposed location, according to information from Shen Valley LLC.

InterChange President Devon Anders spoke to the board Tuesday about the company’s plans.

“We’re actually very excited about this technology and I hope it’s something you view as a positive for Warren County,” Anders said. “We think it’s a good spot. We are trying to just be entrepreneurial, quite honestly, and look at seeing whether there’s an opportunity to do it.”

InterChange teamed up with Universal Air & Gas Products, which will provide the equipment, installation and service for the station. Steve Davis, with Universal Air & Gas Products, also responded to questions about safety measures in place for the station, especially those designed to cut flow in emergencies to prevent combustion.

Anders pointed out that the trucking industry is moving more and more toward using compressed natural gas as fuel. He said his company is trying to stay ahead of the game with the trend.

While compressed natural gas stations exist in Virginia and around the country, none operate along the Interstate 81 corridor, Anders said. Municipal government vehicles are the greatest user of compressed natural gas currently as is the commercial trucking industry, he said.

Planning Director Taryn Logan said customers will be directed to Toray Drive to U.S. 340-522 (Winchester Road) to reduce traffic on Fairground Road.

Supervisors first had to approve Shen Valley LLC’s request to change the county zoning ordinance to allow a compressed natural gas station in a commercial district by a conditional-use permit. The ordinance did not list the use as one allowed by permit.

Supervisors also approved a request for a conditional-use permit to build a 126,000-square-foot warehouse distribution facility on 11 acres of land InterChange owns on the north side of Toray Drive. InterChange already has a building at 190 Toray Drive. InterChange asked for the permit because the size of the new building exceeds the 50,000-square-foot limit.

The board held required public hearings on all three requests. No one spoke in opposition to the requests.

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