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Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Supervisors approve Vulcan expansion

The Vulcan Materials operation in Springfield.
The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors approved zoning applications July 10 allowing Vulcan Materials Co. to expand and upgrade its concrete mixing and batching facility in an industrial park in Mason District.

The zoning special exception increases the allowable height of silos on the property from 75 feet to 135 feet. The board action changes the zoning for the entire 94-acre property to I-6 (heavy industrial). Most of the property is currently zoned I-6 but some parts are zoned residential and commercial.

Vulcan plans to spend $40 million to construct new buildings, replace existing buildings, build four new silos, and consolidate its concrete mixing and batching plants.

An earlier provision in the application for an asphalt plant on the property – which had been subsequently removed from the proposal – sparked strong opposition from nearby residents. The elimination of the asphalt plant was announced before the Planning Commission held a hearing on the proposal in June.

One of the development conditions in the application approved by the BoS states that if Vulcan wants to build an asphalt plant in the future it must seek another zoning special exception amendment, which would require more public hearings.

Grail Harte, president of the Spring Valley Forest Community Association and the leader of the opposition to the asphalt plant, was the only one who spoke at the BoS hearing. While the asphalt plant was under discussion for more than a year, she said, community residents only heard about it in February 2018. Since then more than 1,200 people signed a petition opposing it. The petition cited air pollution, health concerns, quality of life, and property values.

“Before February the words ‘asphalt plant’ appeared to be hidden from the public” and were not included in any notices to the community, Harte told the supervisors. “That seemed to be an intentional omission.”

While Harte praised Mason Supervisor Penny Gross for encouraging Vulcan to remove the asphalt plant from its rezoning application, she said, “I personally find it an abomination that our local officials thought for even one second that an asphalt plant in our area was a good idea that the neighbors would embrace.”

Harte urged the supervisors to deny or defer the application, citing “a flawed process” regarding the lack of communication to the community by the planning commission, the commission’s failure  to hold a second hearing after Vulcan revised its plans, and the lack of a complete traffic or environmental study.

While Vulcan agreed to set up an advisory committee with local business owners, she urged the company to also include community residents or create a separate committee for residents.

Harte also questioned why Vulcan needs four new silos and why they need to be 135 feet high.
Greg Riegel, Vulcan’s attorney, said: “The demand for concrete is not uniform throughout the day. There is greater demand in the morning. A taller, narrower silo delivers the material more efficiently.” And while the new silos would be taller, he said, they would be located in an area where they would be less visible to neighbors.

The final application as approved by the BoS does not include a requirement for a paved trail along the property that county Planning and Zoning staff had insisted on. Residents of the nearby Edsall Park community opposed a trail.  

2 comments:

  1. I believe there is a real problem with the process of notification of community in this very large county. We never hear about these things until the deal is almost done. Thank you Grail for leading the charge on this one, but I believe these decisions are all political and we have the right to expect more from our elected officials. These developers pay for campaigns of the elected officials and turn around and expect their projects to be approved, what is wrong with this picture? This is just one example in a long list of communities taken by surprise by deals that are mostly done. I doubt their request for the special exception will be far behind since they are clearly preparing for it and it will be much harder to stop it.

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  2. "Springfield" -- what a quaint name! So different from the actual reality Fairfax County has become. "Annandale?" The word "dale" meant a stand of trees, last time I checked. Originally, a stand of trees beside the Annan river in Scotland.
    Too bad Virginia and it's stupid "by right" philosophy lets so many people chop em' down!

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