County leaders help business damaged in fire

WOODSTOCK – Shenandoah County leaders helped a business destroyed in a fire last month by fast-tracking a permit through the approval process.

The Board of Supervisors voted 6-0 on Tuesday to approve a special-use permit for John and Bernice Brillman. They operate a shop that assembles wiring for agricultural machinery. The business at 2328 Pepper Road near Conicville also repairs and sells electrical components, mostly for agricultural equipment.

A fire destroyed the business shop on the morning of Nov. 15. County officials learned soon after that the business no longer complied with a permit issued in 2002. Zoning and Subdivision Administrator Joyce Fadeley explained Tuesday that the business employs more people than allowed under its old permit.

The Planning Commission on Tuesday held a public hearing on the Brillman’s request. After the hearing, Fadeley showed photographs of the boarded-up shop damaged in the fire and the rented containers used to store supplies.

Brandon Davis, director for the Office of Community Development, said Tuesday that the county expedited the permit approval process. In a Nov. 19 email to supervisors and commissioners, Davis stated that under normal circumstances the county would have held the required public hearing in early February to comply with advertising deadlines with board action later that month. Davis noted that this schedule would delay the Brillmans’ ability to move forward with rebuilding or permanently relocating their business.

At the public hearing, John Brillman told commissioners and supervisors that the business learned after the fire that it needed to upgrade its zoning. Brillman handed the board letters with 193 signatures of support for the permit request. Several people spoke during the hearing in support of the Brillmans.

James Keys Jr. said he restores old tractor engines and the Brillmans’ business serves as his main source for parts that he can’t find through other suppliers. Another speaker said the business was “a good neighbor.”

The Brillmans’ business is the largest, or at least one of the largest, of its kind in the United States, Fadeley told the commission.

“After the fire, the main concern for the Brillmans was keeping the employees working and receiving an income, especially during this holiday season,” Fadeley said.

After the hearing, the commission voted unanimously to recommend that the board approve the request. Supervisors then held their regular meeting, during which members took up the request and voted to approve the permit.

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