, 2015

Rezoning request tabled a month,
developer may address concerns

by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi

WHITE STONE—Town residents won’t find out until next month whether a rezoning request gets a vote of approval from council.

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Calvin Dolby addresses the White Stone Town Council during a public hearing on a rezoning request last Thursday. Some 35 people attended the meeting, most opposed to the request. Photo by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi

Following a 45-minute public hearing and discussion last Thursday, council voted unanimously, 6-0, to table a request by Hurst Harvey Oil Company to rezone a nearly half-acre parcel on Route 3 from residential to commercial.

Councilman David Jones made the motion to table a decision until February, at which time Hurst Harvey could offer proffers addressing residents’ concerns. Jones said the “applicant gave the impression he was willing to work with the residents.”

Although council cannot ask the applicant to make specific proffers, Hurst Harvey may offer certain restrictions or concessions.

Hurst Harvey is making the rezoning request on behalf of owner Virginia Jodon and is hoping to locate an automatic car wash on the property. Nearby residents are hoping that won’t happen.

Calvin Dolby, whose elderly mother lives near the property, is concerned for her safety. Valerie Rich said there will be drinking, noise and crowds loitering at the property. Burnett Kenner wants to know how the town will handle the increased traffic on Rappahannock Drive, near the intersections with Shady Lane and James Wharf Road. And members of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church presented council a letter of opposition.

Roy Carter had a list of concerns, including noise, safety issues, water runoff, aesthetic issues and the failure rate of car washes nationwide.

Carter said White Stone residents have two nearby car washes to use, one in Kilmarnock and one at Cooks Corner in Middlesex County. He is not convinced the town has the necessary vehicle traffic to sustain another and worries the car wash will eventually be another vacant building, referencing the former Wilson Trucking terminal which is outside of town limits.

“We want to bring businesses to White Stone,” he said. “The problem is this is a business that’s going to be unmanned” and won’t create employment opportunities.

He also noted White Stone Family Practice, which is adjacent to the .465-acre parcel in question, is one of the most attractive buildings in town. Aesthetically, it would be a poor decision to put a car wash next to the medical office, he said.

“I wouldn’t be here tonight if the applicants were looking at acreage next to the old trucking terminal. That would be a better location,” he said.

Mac Davis, a former town councilman and a business owner in White Stone, was the only speaker in favor of the car wash. Addressing the safety and security concerns, Davis advised talking “to the people in Kilmarnock,” because as far as he knows there are no safety issues resulting from the car wash there.

“You can’t always pick and choose the type of business you’d like to have,” he said, adding “I hope council will rezone.”

Wallace Lewis of Hurst Harvey told residents he understood everyone has concerns but “I feel that we can work through all the issues.”

Following the public hearing, councilman Randy Reeves reminded council, “We have to remember, we’re not voting on a car wash. The issue is the zoning.”

Following a public hearing last month, the town planning commission voted unanimously, 3-0, to recommend approval. During that meeting, commission member Paul Elbourn also noted the issue is not about the specific business locating on the parcel but about whether it is a logical move to rezone the parcel from residential to commercial. The parcel in question borders the town limits to the south and is on Route 3, which Elbourn pointed out is the commercial hub.

Councilman Joe Sliakis said, “We need businesses in White Stone” but noted he “hates to see the residents there be uncomfortable...and it’s not a necessity.”

Councilman Irving Brittingham was concerned about how a car wash would effect nearby residential property values.

Jones said it is a “50/50 shot. If the car wash is successful, the value could go up. If it’s not successful, the value can go down.”

Jones also addressed many of the residents’ specific concerns, saying he too worried about the 24-hour operation of the car wash, which would include an automatic bay and two wand bays.

As for buffer issues with nearby residences and businesses, Jones suggested adding vegetation in the rear along with fencing. The Virginia Department of Transportation will address the traffic safety issues, he said.

“The truck terminal was used for 30 years and was vacant for a few years but is now being used again,” said Jones.

He did agree there was the possibility of crowds gathering at the car wash, the playing of loud music and trash issues.

“If this thing goes through, and that’s a big if, there are things the town is going to have to do to protect the citizens,” he said.

Jones’ motion was to table a vote pending Hurst Harvey working with town manager Patrick Frere to address citizen concerns. Although there will not be a public hearing at the February 7 town council meeting, public input will be allowed.

Councilman Blair Kenyon seconded the motion, which was passed by Jones, Kenyon, Sliakis, Brittingham, Randy Reeves and Hodges. Councilman William Hubbard was absent.

According to Frere, even if the rezoning request is approved, in order to operate a car wash on the property Hurst Harvey would need an approved Chesapeake Bay site plan, an erosion/sediment control plan and storm water management plan, along with a VDOT-approved commercial entrance, health department permit and town zoning permit. Parking and buffering requirements would also have to be met.

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