Another truck stop at the Interstate 81 interchange in Mauzy would negatively impact the environment, surrounding traffic and the county’s rural character, according to a local environmental advocacy group.

On Aug. 16, the Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley wrote to the Rockingham County Board of Supervisors asking it to deny the rezoning and special-use permit required for a proposed truck stop off Exit 257.

Leesburg-based Gas City LLC plans to build and operate a travel center on 31 acres of land just north of the Interstate 81 and U.S. 11 interchange. A rezoning request was submitted to allow for business interchange uses, concurrent with a special-use permit for truck parking, a truck wash and repair station.

The Board of Supervisors will consider both requests at its meeting Wednesday. The public hearing begins at 7 p.m.

Rockingham County’s Planning Commission narrowly recommended approval of the rezoning request.

‘Environmentally Sensitive Area’

The letter, written by Kim Sandum, Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley’s Rockingham County coordinator, notes that the proposed site is located a half-mile directly uphill from Smith Creek, in an “environmentally sensitive area.”

The watershed is a major source of drinking water for surrounding communities, Sandum wrote, and there is no public sewer in the area. A package plant would be required to handle the wastewater generated at the site, and Sandum wrote that a poor plant could have consequential effects to Smith Creek and the surrounding area.

“Over time, the proposed truck stop could discharge nutrient pollution and heavy metals into a sensitive resource that is already impaired, offsetting the tremendous efforts of county farmers, monetary investments by state and federal agencies, and gains in agricultural practices toward the restoration of Smith Creek,” she wrote.

The amount of wastewater generated by a truck stop is significant, Sandum wrote. The travel center at I-81’s Exit 291 in Toms Brook generates an estimated 25,000 gallons a day of wastewater, roughly the equivalent use of an additional 300 residents on site.

“It is our experience that Rockingham officials would not be favorable to adding 300 new residents in an environmentally sensitive area without access to public water and sewer and therefore should not do so for a truck stop,” she wrote.

Sandum wrote that tourism and agriculture are leading economic sectors in Rockingham County, and the proposal would not benefit either.

“Tourists don’t visit the Shenandoah Valley to see truck stops,” she wrote. “No one seeking rural scenery and experiences would call a truck stop beautiful.”

Sandum also called for further study of the proposal’s impact on traffic. A traffic impact analysis states additional traffic lights or other traffic calming measures at the entrances of the proposed development are not needed.

The proposal is also inconsistent with the county’s comprehensive plan, Sandum wrote.

“A large-scale truck stop with extensive pavement, lighting, traffic, and their associated impacts, is at odds with [Rockingham County’s] vision,” she wrote. “The traveling public is well served by truck stops and travel amenities at multiple locations along Interstate 81 and degrading the environment and rural character at Mauzy is not justified.”

The Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley’s plea has a letter from Nancy Sorrells, a contractor for the group and a former member of the Augusta County Board of Supervisors, asking the board to deny the request. In her appeal, she referred to a similar situation she was involved with in Augusta County.

In 1999, Sorrells and some of her neighbors were unsuccessful in trying to stop a Pilot truck stop in Greenville. Sorrells served on the Augusta County Board of Supervisors from 2004 to 2012, and “spent all eight years of my time on the board dealing with myriad issues resulting from that ill-planned truck stop,” she said.

She cited water and air quality issues, traffic congestion, infrastructure issues, consistency with the county’s comprehensive plan, and rescue and law enforcement calls and effects on local businesses.

(2) comments

JPoplar

I find it someone hypocrtical that none of the Valley's environmental organiztions were willing to take a stand regrading the Mount Jackson Solar "farm" because it was a "renewable" energy source despite the fact that solar panels contain toxic chemicals and the "farm" is adjacent to Mill Creek which feeds the North Fork. Afraid you can not have it both ways ...

John Chroniger

less than 5 miles south of this exit is a Pilot Truck stop which is located in a heavily commerical area. The exit at Mauzy is basically in a rural housing market featuring open farm land. Another truck stop with motels adjacent is only 15 miles north in Mount Jackson and is also in a commerical area. While trucks serve us daily there is not a need for another venue here.

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