Mount Airy appeals board rejects plan to build 7 fuel storage tanks Members say proposal not in 'harmony' with area

November 15, 1996|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

Southern States Cooperative Inc. is studying its options after Mount Airy's zoning appeals board turned down its plan to build bulk petroleum storage tanks in an undeveloped industrial park.

The board's decision was greeted with applause by about 20 Twin Arch Road and Conestoga Heights subdivision residents who attended a hearing Tuesday night to oppose the proposal.

Attorney David A. Severn, who represented Southern States, said the Virginia-based cooperative has not decided whether to appeal the decision in court. "They want to sit back and think about it, look at their options and talk to the town," Severn said.

Southern States has a contract to buy 6 acres at the eastern end of East Ridgeville Boulevard. The cooperative wants to build four 30,000-gallon storage tanks and three 15,000-gallon storage tanks to store propane, kerosene, gasoline and heating oil. The property, owned by William Pleasants Sr. and William Pleasants Jr., contains 38.9 acres of industrially zoned land and 10.1 acres zoned for residential development.

"I'm not convinced that the characterization of this use as harmonious with the surrounding uses is accurate," board member Mark Roth said.

Under town zoning law, a fuel storage facility requires board of appeals approval. One standard that special exception uses such as the storage facility are required to meet is "that the proposed use, including its nature, intensity and location, is in harmony with the intent of the town master plan and the orderly and appropriate development of the district."

The board's official decision will cite the "harmony" standard, chairman Robert Woodward said.

Southern States' proposal came to the appeals board with favorable recommendations from the town planning commission and the planning staff. On the "harmony" standard, the staff report said the proposed use would be adjacent to similar industrial uses when the property is developed.

Appeals board members expressed concerns about the possibility of fire, explosion or damage to the tanks by vandals before rejecting the proposal on a 4-1 vote. John McCumber abstained.

Neighbors told the board that the vacant property is used as a firing range and said they feared that bullets would penetrate the storage tanks. Others expressed concerns about traffic and reduced property values.

"[Southern States representatives] said it is not going to be offensive," said Twin Arch Road resident Raul Yzaguirre. "I fail to see how it could be anything else. As far as the resale of the house, I fail to see how it could be beneficial."

Conestoga Heights resident Diana Perney said she and her husband moved to Mount Airy two years ago "because it wasn't highly industrialized, and now you're going to put a hazard to my children that close."

Severn said the 6-acre site is larger than many of Southern States' bulk fuel storage facilities. He said it would be a $1.8

million investment and would be "a clean operation, not offensive."

Pub Date: 11/15/96

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