Strasburg approaches vote on asphalt plant

Blair Starr, a resident of Founders Way, speaks against the proposed Kickin' Asphalt plant during the public hearing for the special use permit application on Monday night inside Strasburg's Town Council chambers. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG — The Town Council is set to vote next week on whether it will grant a permit allowing an asphalt plant in the town’s business development park. At a work session Monday, council members expressed some concerns about the plant but left little indication about how they will vote.

The council members were concerned about a broad number of issues surrounding the proposed plant, from the environmental and economic impact the new plant might have to whether the town’s unified development ordinance would allow the plant to be built.

Councilman Don LeVine expressed some concern over the aesthetic impact of the proposed asphalt plant. The new plant would have a tall silo to store hot asphalt.

“The visibility of the silos may be a detriment for new businesses,” LeVine said.

LeVine said that he needed to know how the plant would economically benefit the town, and not just how it would benefit the company building the plant, Kickin’ Asphalt.

Lucy Chaney, of Founders Way, speaks against the proposed Kickin' Asphalt plant during the public hearing for the special use permit application Monday night inside Strasburg's Town Council chambers. Rich Cooley/Daily

“If we allow the plant to be built, what is the long-term economic benefit to the town?” LeVine asked during the work session.

David Stanley, the project manager for Kickin’ Asphalt, previously said in a phone interview that an asphalt mixing plant would help his company grow by reducing its costs. He also said that the new plant might allow his Strasburg-based business to grow at a faster rate than it has in the past.

The number of jobs added immediately, however, would be limited. Stanley said around 15 people work at a typical asphalt plant.

Stanley also said that if the Town of Strasburg does not allow Kickin’ Asphalt to build the asphalt plant, the company may move outside Shenandoah County.

Vice Mayor Scott Terndrup said he was concerned about the environmental impact the plant might have. The proposed plant is about 2,000 feet, or 0.4 miles, away from a housing development. Looking at some children at the back of the room, he said he wanted to make sure they wouldn’t be harmed by the new plant.

“I think we can all relate to our children and what we wouldn’t do to protect them,” Terndrup said.

A group of residents from the housing development also showed up to voice their concern about the impact the proposed plant might have on them. Carol Fowler, who lives in that development, said she was concerned that filters meant to limit the spread of toxic chemicals will not capture small particulates.

“Toxic chemicals will be released into the air,” Fowler said.

Shane Keats, another resident at the housing development, said he was concerned about the emissions at the site. The fact that there is another asphalt plant near his house – that plant is about 3,500 feet from the housing development – did not ease his concerns.

“You kind of double the (environmental) factors there,” Keats said, by adding a second plant.

Terndrup said that in order to get his vote, Kickin’ Asphalt would have to accept a number of new conditions aimed at ensuring that the plant would be safe for people living in the housing development. Those conditions include a provision that the company agree to be inspected by an independent environmental firm. That firm, he said, would be chosen by the owner of Kickin’ Asphalt and approved by the town manager.

“I would like to see some kind of assurance to these people…that those kids in the back will be safe from any potential environmental disaster,” Terndrup said.

Councilwoman Kim Bishop said she supported the plan for the new asphalt plant overall but had concerns about whether the new asphalt plant could comply with the town’s unified development ordinance, which sets regulations for buildings in the town.

The development ordinance says that anything granted with a special use permit – including the asphalt plant – “shall not be noxious or offensive by reason of vibration, noise, odor, dust, smoke or gas.”

Bishop said she was concerned that Kickin’ Asphalt could not meet that requirement.

“I see really no problem with Kickin’ Asphalt from the plans you brought to me,” Bishop said.

But, she added, “I am almost compelled to vote against it” because of her concerns surrounding the unified development ordinance.

No members of the Strasburg Town Council said explicitly how they would vote.

In addition to voicing concern about the environmental impact of the proposed plant, Terndrup said that economically the proposed plant might make sense for the town. Only 7 percent of Strasburg’s revenue comes from business, he said. Bringing new businesses in can lower the burden of taxpayers.

“Strasburg only has a certain draw to businesses that are out there,” he said.

Terndrup’s concern about bringing businesses into Strasburg was echoed by some of the residents who spoke at the public hearing. One of the residents, Bill Holtzman, said the industrial park, where the asphalt plant would be built, is designed for things like an asphalt plant.

“I’d be happy to have them as a neighbor,” Holtzman said.

The vote is scheduled for the council’s meeting at 7 p.m. June 13.