‘Mega-site’ owner responds to complaint

Robert Whitehurst

The owner of property eyed for annexation into Mount Jackson says he didn’t use explosives to raze his buildings months ago.

Robert Whitehurst demolished at least a half-dozen homes and other structures on his land in Shenandoah County earlier this year. Whitehurst said Tuesday he used heavy equipment – a 50,000-pound excavator – to break up the remaining concrete foundations.

Whitehurst and Frederickson Properties have requested that Mount Jackson annex 576 acres of farmland off Turkey Knob Road adjacent to town. The land abuts 146 acres already in town limits and recently rezoned from agricultural to limited industrial use. The Whitehursts intend to annex and then rezone the additional 576 acres to industrial use to create a potential “mega site” for development.

The proposal has already attracted some opposition, while supporters of the idea say a mega site could serve as a boon to Mount Jackson and the county’s economy.

Whitehurst pointed out that the town’s future land-use maps show the property annexed into the corporate limits. The land could be developed either for residential housing or industrial use.

“This is where the town has to grow,” Whitehurst said.

Whitehurst refuted recent claims by neighbors that he used explosives in the demolition. Jackie and Eddie Dove said last week that during the demolition explosives went off and spooked turkeys in a holding house on their poultry farm. About 100 turkeys died as a result. The Doves claim that loud explosions came from the Whitehurst property at night as the demolition occurred.

“We did not do any demolition with explosives at all,” Whitehurst said.

The Doves, who run Dove Poultry Inc. on Wissler Road, have said they worry that, should the Whitehurst property undergo development, the construction noise would scare their turkeys. Whitehurst noted that any construction equipment would operate a couple thousand yards away from the turkey houses.

“Anyone who knows anything about it knows … they’re just trying to pull on the sympathy strings of people when the main reason is it’s an eyesore to them and it’s gonna be an inconvenience,” Whitehurst said.

As for explosions, Whitehurst said neighbors likely heard people shooting at explosive targets – a popular hobby in the area. Whitehurst said friends shoot targets on his property. Whitehurst mentioned that jets also fly over the area a couple times a week and create a loud noise.

“I don’t mind people being against it,” Whitehurst said. “I do mind rubbing my name through the dirt and my family’s name and making up blatant lies about me … because I’m not doing that to anybody else and that disgusts me, honestly.”

Whitehurst said he sees the annexation and potential development by a large-scale, industrial user as a good move for Mount Jackson.

“It should be a positive for the town, I mean, the town’s dying,” Whitehurst said. “They’re closing up shops constantly.”

Whitehurst noted that he’s suffered multiple break-ins into vehicles on his farm. One reason he destroyed the buildings on his property was as a deterrent against vandalism.

“I understand people are upset; they don’t want it in their backyard because they don’t really understand what’s coming in and what it’s gonna look like,” Whitehurst said. “They’re all thinking of the worst.”

Asked if he knew what user plans to develop on the property, Whitehurst said he had “no idea” and wouldn’t comment further.

“I mean, until it’s on the market and sold, I have no idea,” Whitehurst said.

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