by Rose Murphy, Bull Run Observer

5 June 2009, pp 1, 20

“Asphalt plants won’t be coming to land near Innovation, ‘unless and until both plants satisfy the community’s concerns’ about them, Corey Stewart, chairman of Prince William Board of County Supervisors, said May 27.

“A public hearing set for June 2 for a special use permit (SUP) to let Finley Asphalt and Sealing, Inc., build an asphalt plant on Hornbaker Road near Innovation was postponed indefinitely, Stewart explained.  He added he expects another SUP, this one for GRR Land of Virginia and scheduled for public hearing June 23, also will be postponed.

“Prince William County Planning Commission recommended the Finely SUP for approval at a public hearing May 6.  The 8.8 acres site is designated industrial employment (EI) on the county’s comprehensive land use plan.  It is zoned industrial transportation (M/T), and is in the airport safety overlay district.

“The GRR Land of Virginia property is three acres at 9435 Contractor’s Ct. in Broad Run Industrial Park.  The SUP is for an asphalt and concrete batching plant on land zoned for heavy industry (M1) 600 feet south of the intersection of Contractor’s Court and Industrial Drive.  The planning commission recommended approval of both a SUP and proffer changes for the operation at its May 20 meeting.

“In response to concerns that Finely Asphalt contributed $16,000 to him over the last two years, Stewart said he received $1000 on May 1, 2009, which he returned because of the pending SUP.  The company also contributed $10,000 on March 27, 2008, when he was running for lieutenant governor of Virginia, and $5000 on September 30, 2007, when sought the board of supervisors’ office.

” ‘I get support from a broad section of the business community, but that doesn’t mean support for their development.  In fact, I oppose this (SUP), and will continue to oppose both plants until community concerns are satisfied,’ the chairman said in a May 27 interview.

” ‘I will not support this development over the community’s objections,’ he asserted.

“Stewart pointed out, ‘I received more contributions from businesses in the area that strongly oppose (the Finley) propose, including land owners at Innovation.’

“The chairman noted land in the area of the VA 234 bypass ‘is some of the last industrially planned and zoned property left in the county, and industrial development is necessary for the county’s growth.’

“Stewart added, ‘However, the safety of the public is first and foremost.  I won’t support any development if it threatens public safety.’

“He explained he also realizes ‘some people feel blindsided by a lack of notice’ on the two plants.  The county is required to notify property owners within 200 feet of a SUP application, and this was done.

” ‘We should look at revising the county ordinance to require wider notice.  Two hundred feet is not sufficient,’ he remarked.

” ‘The Bull Run Observer’ also received e-mails opposing Finley SUP from Victory Lake residents Sam Shinaishin, John Schmitt and Charlotte and Joe Herres.

“Shinaishin mentioned the Finley contributions to Stewart’s coffers, and pointed out the Finely property at 9514 Hornbaker Road ‘is less than one mile east of Victory Lake Elementary School and a half mile (from) the Saybrooke subdivision.’  He noted Finley already purchased the property, which he called ‘a high degree of confidence for a project needing significant waivers and departures from established county development and zoning patterns.’

“Schmitt also noted the Finley money given Stewart.  He said he’d ‘decided to vote for [Stewart] in the last election,’ but that a vote for Finley Asphalt will cause Stewart to ‘lose my vote and never get it back.  I suspect my wife’s vote as well.’

“In his reply to Schmitt, Stewart pointed out there are very strict guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency for pollution and emissions from asphalt plants.  These standards are enforced by the Department of Environmental Quality.  He said he appreciated Schmitt’s support and shared his concerns over the plant.  Stewart added Erick Finley, plant owner, intends to ‘meet with the community to answer its concerns, and has deferred the public hearing….’

“The Herres couple wrote ‘The Bull Run Observer’ that “this neighborhood is furious and willing to do anything to stop this (plant) from happening.  After reading about the horrific health risks that come along with breathing the dangerous toxins daily, I don’t think most people will stay.’  The e-mail added that there are ‘many other reasons this doesn’t make sense.’

“In an e-mail sent to businesses and residents in Western Prince William County May 25, Stewart said, ‘There seems to be misinformation spreading in the community that this is a done deal.  I want to put an end to it right now.  I am in opposition to these plants as long as the community is in opposition to these plants.

” ‘There have also been accusations that I am unable to be objective in this situation because Erick Finley has been a strong supporter of my campaigns.  I want to make it clear that this is not the case.  I have probably received more contributions from businesses and individuals who currently stand in opposition to his proposal.  I am not for sale, and I do not make my decisions with anything else than the best interests of Prince William County in mind.’

“Tim Bako, a spokesman for Finley Asphalt, said May 27 the company had gone beyond the 200-foot notice requirement in telling the public about the plant.  He explained letters had gone to businesses and residents in the area, Manassas Airport and a homeowners’ association.  He said he did not recall the name of the homeowners’ group.

“Bako said only two people contacted the company, one inquiring whether the operation would run 24/7.  He said the company would operate round the clock ‘during paving season, if VDOT needs us for nighttime work.’

“Bako likened the 600 vehicle trips per day planned by the plant to traffic generated by 30 residential homes.  He said some fast food restaurants generate more than 1200 vehicle trips each day.  He said emissions from the plant ‘would be less than sitting in traffic.’

” ‘The plant will be based on green technology.  It will be an environmentally friendly operation,’ Bako pointed out.”