Roanoke Co., VA Asphalt Plant Gets Special-use Permit

The continuing and often contentious story of an asphalt plant proposed for the Glenvar community took another step toward resolution Tuesday night.

The Roanoke County Board of Supervisors approved by a 3-1 vote a special-use permit needed by Adams Construction Co. to build a facility near Peaceful Drive on a 17-acre parcel now owned by Appalachian Power Co.

And although public outcry over the 300-ton-per-hour asphalt plant dropped dramatically after the proposed site shifted in April from Salem's West Main Street to a remote, industrially zoned area close to the Western Virginia Regional Jail, the decision was not without some cautious opposition.

Supervisor Butch Church, who represents the Catawba District where the plant would be located, offered the single vote Tuesday night against granting the permit, although he said he respected the company and said he expected the decision would be passed anyway.

"It's about the oath I took to represent 18,000 people," explained Church, who said he also was against putting the plant on West Main Street. He said he felt it would be contradictory to oppose the plant in one location but not in another.

"By doing so, I would put a diminished value on the 10 to 15 families that live in the [Peaceful Drive] area," he said, adding that he had been frequently asked by others if he would like to live near an asphalt plant. "Honestly, no, I wouldn't.

"If I don't want it on my street, I just don't feel good about putting it on their street."

Two people who do live on the street in question, however, begged to differ.

"I think they'll be a good neighbor," Randall Thomas, of the 6100 block of Peaceful Drive, told the board. Another resident who lives nearby said she thought the company's presence and attention to environmental compliance might make the area cleaner.

Of the six people who spoke out about the matter Tuesday night, only one opposed the plant.

Henry Bryant of Elliston said he worried about potential environmental dangers.

"These concerns are not just 'not in my back yard,' " said Bryant, later adding that he hoped a third party, possibly graduate students from Virginia Tech, would be brought in to monitor conditions periodically. "I would trust grad students to do the right thing."

Supervisor Charlotte Moore was out of town because of a prior commitment and did not vote.

Members Richard Flora and Joe McNamara voted to approve the permit, as did Chairman Mike Altizer, who added the comment that he had visited a similar Adams plant in Harrisonburg, spoken to neighbors in the area and been satisfied by what he heard and saw.

An attorney for Adams Construction, Maryellen Goodlatte, said the company hopes the process continues to move smoothly.

"I think they're very pleased," Goodlatte said. "They've worked very hard and they're ready to move on."

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