Asphalt plant approval kicks off new process

In tense minutes at the Strasburg Town Council’s meeting Tuesday night, workers at Strasburg-based Kickin’ Asphalt sat with the rest of the general public in packed seating, waiting to find out whether they would be allowed to build an asphalt plant in Strasburg’s business industrial park. The council members finished voting, and the vote was tied.

The workers didn’t know what to expect.

“As close as the vote was, there was no indication of how the vote would turn out,” said David Stanley, project manager of Kickin’. “So we were hoping for the best.”

It was only when Mayor Rich Orndorff cast the tie-breaking vote to approve a permit allowing the company to build the asphalt plant that the workers had any idea of the end decision.

“We’re very excited on our end,” Stanley said. “We’re very tired.”

But Stanley described Tuesday’s vote as just the first step of a long process. Following the vote, Stanley said, Kickin’ Asphalt will be spending two or three months working to get the site plan for the plant approved. That process will involve receiving a report from the Virginia Department of Transportation on the traffic impact the new site would have, something required as part of the special use permit the Strasburg Town Council approved.

Then the company will be working to move its shop and offices to the site of the new plant. In a phone interview conducted before the final vote, Stanley said the company was looking to leave Shenandoah County if the vote failed, because it wanted an asphalt plant, a shop and an office in one location.

“There are limited opportunities for us in this area to be able to do all three of these things,” Stanley said at the time.

Stanley said he expects getting a shop and office onto the site of the new plant will take somewhere between one and 1 1/2 years. Only at that point will the company begin to build the new plant.

“There’s a lot of work ahead of us to do,” Stanley said.

For local residents who live at the Founders Landing housing development, which sits about a half-mile away from the site of the incoming asphalt plant, the fight appears to be over. The residents had discussed and were looking into finding a pro-bono attorney to appeal their case but so far have decided against doing so.

“Right now, that’s not where we’re at,” said Carol Fowler, one of the residents who had been looking into hiring the attorney.

Fowler credited that decision to the amount of work that would be required to battle the vote in court as the reason for the residents’ wariness about hiring an attorney.

Fowler said that she was disappointed with the end result and thought the decision was made too hastily. She added that she agreed with and was encouraged by the statements council member Don LeVine made regarding the plant.

LeVine said at the Town  Council meeting that he was not convinced approving the plant would be a financial benefit to the town and that he thought the move might harm the health of nearby residents.

“I’m not motivated to risk putting the plant in for the health of the people when the return to the town might be zero,” LeVine said.