Friends of Barboursville News:01/15/05: General Shale Defeated in VA Supreme Court
On Friday, January 14, 2005, the Supreme Court of Virginia handed down its decision in the Barboursville case, reversing Orange Circuit Court Judge Daniel R. Bouton and ruling that the Circuit Court erred in holding that the Orange County Zoning Ordinance permitted General Shale's proposed mining access road in a residentially-zoned district.
Friends of Barboursville extends its heartfelt thanks to all those who helped win this victory for our community!
More details of the decision will be posted as they become available.
10/02/04: 3rd Annual FoB Yard Sale and Bake Sale!
On Saturday, October 2, Friends of Barboursville will hold its 3rd annual yard sale and bake sale! The sale begins at 6:30 am and will be held at the old firehouse in Barboursville, thanks to the kindness of the firehouse's new owners, Tori and Carl Tremaglio.
If you'd like to donate items for the auction, please send e-mail to "firstname.lastname@example.org".
Come join us and share in the fun!
06/16/04: Supreme Court Grants Appeal in General Shale Case
On June 15, 2004, the Supreme Court of Virginia announced that it would allow a group of Barboursville property owners to appeal an Orange County Circuit Court's earlier ruling in a lawsuit against the county and brick-maker General Shale. A trial will likely be scheduled for sometime next Fall.
In November of 2003, Orange County Circuit Court Judge Daniel R. Bouton dismissed the group's suit, after having ruled that General Shale's proposed mining operation did not violate zoning laws. The suit had claimed that General Shale's intent to transport 16,200 dump truck loads per year was not allowable in a residential zone. The Barboursville group's appeal asks the Supreme Court to overturn Judge Bouton's ruling, arguing that the ruling is not consistent with either state or county laws.
General Shale proposes to mine shale at the Barboursville site, then transport it to the company's brick plant in Somerset. See Friends of Barboursville's Mine Watch pages for more information about the proposal.
02/11/04: Old Firehouse Plan Approved
On Tuesday, February 10, the Board of Supervisors unanimously approved Tori and Carl Tremaglio's rezoning request for the Old Firehouse property in Barboursville (see earlier story). Friends of Barboursville sends its congratulations, and welcomes them to our community. For more information about their business, see their web site at www.festivefarerentals.com.
02/08/04: A New Face for the Old Firehouse?
Tori and Carl Tremaglio have big plans for the old Barboursville firehouse, at the corner of Route 33 and Route 20. They'd like to turn the building into an elegant site for parties, receptions and meetings, complete with new landscaping and an attractive patio and pergola. In order to do it, they'll need the approval of the County Board of Supervisors, though.
On Tuesday, February 10, at 7:00 pm the Supervisors will hear public comments on the Tremaglios' proposal, which will require rezoning. The old firehouse property consists of two lots, zoned R-1 (limited residential) and C-1 (limited commercial). The Tremaglios' proposal would require that the lots be rezoned to C-2 (general commercial). The Planning Commission has already approved this rezoning.
Friends of Barboursville wholeheartedly supports the Tremaglios' proposal. We believe it fits in perfectly with the existing character of our community, complementing the other components of Barboursville's thriving tourist economy.
11/07/03: General Shale Lawsuit Dismissed
In a surprising move Friday, Judge Daniel Bouton of the Orange County Circuit court dismissed a lawsuit which had been filed against Orange County and brick manufacturer General Shale. Judge Bouton unexpectedly ruled from the bench, leaving many of those involved in the case to find out about the ruling through the news media.
The suit's 37 complainants claim that the County violated the law by granting General Shale a Special Use Permit to operate an open-pit shale mine. (See Friends of Barboursville's Mine Watch pages for more information about the proposal.)
Judge Bouton ruled that the Orange County code allows "accessory uses" to go across zoning boundaries when a parcel of land has two zones. In this case, part of the property is zoned agricultural and part residential. The judge ruled that General Shale's hauling operation through the residential zone (16,200 dump truck loads of material per year) was allowable because it was an accessory use to the work that the company would be doing on the agricultural-zoned part of the property.
The complainants had argued that this position was not in accordance with either state or county law. State law clearly holds that zoning ordinances must be uniform throughout each zone. Allowing uses in split-zoned lots that are not allowed in single-zone lots would violate this requirement of the Virginia code.
Further, the complainants argued that the section of the county code dealing with Special Use Permits does not grant accessory uses at all. Accessory uses are only granted for by-right uses. In the case of special use permits, the code clearly intends that all uses must be explicitly spelled out.
The complainants intend to appeal the decision to the State Supreme Court, where they hope to prevail based on these considerations.
11/06/03: FoB Silent Auction is Successful
On November 6, Friends of Barboursville held a very successful Silent Auction at the Barboursville Winery. Despite rainy weather, over 50 people attended. The auction included about 100 items, including original artwork, cakes, services, electronics, plants, furniture, and much more. Everyone had a lot of fun.
We'd like to thank all the bidders who braved the rain to help us out. We also extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Barboursville Winery for its generous hospitality, and to all of the businesses and individuals who donated goods and services. Special thanks go out to all the Friends of Barboursville members who made the auction a success, particularly our auction chairperson, Joni Capelle!
11/06/03: Barboursville Gets New Supervisor
On Tuesday, November 4th, citizens of Orange County's Barbour district elected a new person to represent them on the Board of Supervisors. Challenger Mark Johnson recaptured the seat from incumbent Rod Slayton, after having lost to him in the previous election. The victory was decisive, with Johnson winning 80% of the votes cast.
Slayton had become an unpopular candidate because of his positions on two new schools and the controversial open-pit mine proposed in his district. Slayton has been a vocal supporter of the mine, despite widespread public opposition. He even went so far as to write a letter to Governor Mark Warner, complaining that the citizens of his district were making things difficult for the mining company.
Mark Johnson, owner of Johnson's Tire, ran as an independent. He promises to look closely at the ways the county is spending its money, and to make sure that county employees serve the citizens in a timely, friendly manner.
10/02/03: Orange County Hosts Planning Forum
In late October, Orange County will host a community forum to discuss how to encourage the design of new development so that it reflects and enhances the rural and historic character of the county. The forum, titled Good Raisin's: Designing Development to Enhance Community Character, will feature speakers Ed McMahon and Milton Herd.
Mr. McMahon is Vice President and Director of Land Use Programs for The Conservation Fund, which describes itself as "Pioneering a brand of conservation driven by effectiveness, efficiency, and environmental and economic balance".
Mr. Herd, a Certified Planner, has worked at the local government level and is now the owner of his own planning consultant firm in Purcellville in Loudoun County.
Sponsors of the event include Barboursville Vineyards, Grymes Drug Store, Lacy's Florist, A&K Development, Tricord Incorporated, Orange Downtown Alliance, Lake of the Woods Association, Friends of Barboursville, Holiday Inn Express, Clara Colby and Bryan Wright, and Tricord Homes Incorporated.
The forum will be held from 7:00-9:00 on Thursday, October 23 at the Holiday Inn Express in Orange. All who are interested are welcome to attend. Registration is free.
For more information, contact the Orange County Office of Planning and Zoning at (540) 672-4347 or (540) 972-1455.
Click Here to See the Flyer
09/25/03: General Shale Lawsuit Stalled
In May of 2002, Friends of Barboursville and 37 individual complainants, filed a lawsuit charging that Orange County improperly issued a Special Use Permit to brick manufacturer General Shale. The suit argues that the decision to issue the permit was arbitrary and capricious, and that the permit violates the county's zoning ordinances. After more than a year, the case went to trial on September 25, 2003, in Orange County Circuit Court.
After half a day in court, Judge Daniel Bouton stopped the proceedings in order to consider motions made by General Shale and Orange County. If granted, those motions would end the trial in General Shale's favor. If they are denied, the trial will proceed at a later date. A decision is expected sometime after lawyers from both sides have had an opportunity to submit written arguments in support of their cases. The deadline for submitting these arguments is October 9.
08/15/03: FoB Member Appointed to County Committee
Friends of Barboursville Vice-President Clara Colby has been appointed to a committee formed to study a "Tourism Overlay" proposal recently submitted to Orange County's Planning Commission. The proposal is intended to keep the County's tourist corridors attractive to visitors. It would do so by adding new zoning regulations that supplement the county's existing zoning code. These new regulations would apply only to road frontage along several specific tourist corridors, such as routes 20, 33 and 15.
Clara is approaching the task thoughtfully. "How do you make guidelines that are explicit enough to be any use at all, without stifling people?" she asks. For example, some communities adopt design guidelines that discourage the use of certain building materials, such as cinder block. "Why shouldn't people use cinder block?" says Clara. "Some cinder block buildings look fine. What you really want is for people to take pride in what they have."
These issues have come up before in Orange County. For instance, franchises often want to assert their "brand identity" by using the same building design at every location, whether it's harmonious with the area or not. "Maybe Orange County should have its own brand identity," says Clara, "But I think you can do that without making every building look the same."
12/27/02: DMME Responds to General Shale Inquiries
On December 19, 2002, the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) responded to an earlier letter from General Shale. General Shale had asked several questions about DMME's highly critical December 5 report regarding General Shale's application for a state permit to mine part of a 139-acre parcel near Barboursville.
The letter, written by Mark S. Goff of the Division of Mineral Mining, underscores DMME's earlier requests for more information, saying:
"The hearing officer's report not only identified a number of items in the application that did not meet the regulatory requirements, but also indicated where additional information is needed to support General Shale's assessment of potential impacts to public safety and the environment. The information requested by DMM will provide the basis to address the issues in the permit decision."
The letter notes the large turnout at the public hearing held by DMME, and says:
"A wide variety of complex issues were raised during the hearing that, when coupled with the relatively close proximity of some of the property owners, deserve full and careful consideration on the part of DMM."
12/10/02: General Shale Responds to DMME Report
On December 10, 2002, Greg Bowles of General Shale wrote a letter to the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) in response to DMME's highly critical review of General Shale's application for a state mining permit.
In the letter, Mr. Bowles criticizes DMME for listening to the public's comments, instead of relying solely on the Department's expertise and "knowlege of [General Shale] and its operations".
The letter goes on to complain about the DMME report's comments on simultaneous reclamation. Mr. Bowles says that "our surface mining process practically prohibits such reclamation" until mining is complete, and that "we are unable to predict precisely what conditions lie beneath the ground surface."
Mr. Bowles misstates one of the conditions imposed by the County Board of Supervisors. He says that General Shale is required to "replace any well less than or equal to 100' in depth and within 1000 feet of the active mining area that is adversely affected by the mining." (our emphasis) Note that the county's conditions only apply to wells whose quantity is affected. There is no provision for replacing wells which become contaminated. The DMME report expresses concern about oil and other petroleum contaminants.
12/5/02: State Asks For Uranium Testing at General Shale Site
On December 5, 2002, The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy (DMME) released a report regarding General Shale's application for a State Mining Permit for a site near Barboursville. The report concludes that General Shale currently "does not qualify for a Surface Mining Permit". The report points out many deficiencies in General Shale's application, and says that these must be fixed before DMME will consider issuing a permit.
In particular, the report asks that a study be done of the radioactive materials at the site, and their potential impact on public safety and the environment. The report notes that, prior to the 1982 Virginia moratorium on Uranium mining, Uranium exploration in the area specifically targeted the type of material present at the Barboursville site. Any study of radioactive material will need the approval of DMME before it's done. In the event that mining is ever allowed on the site, and depending on the outcome of these initial tests, DMME may require periodic monitoring of radioactive materials at the site.
DMME's report also noted many omissions, discrepancies and deficiencies in General Shale's proposal. Mapping errors and missing information on maps figure prominently in the criticisms.
The report asks that General Shale submit detailed plans for noise and dust abatement, saying that the current proposal is not adequate in this regard. The noise limit set by DMME is very weak, though. They only require that General Shale reduce the noise level to 70dB, which is the level at which EPA says hearing loss can occur over the long term. EPA specifies a limit of 55dB for residential areas, though, as the limit at which noise becomes an "interference and annoyance".
The DMME report asks that General Shale submit a Land Use Permit issued by VDOT for the commercial entrance to the mine. This is required by Virginia regulations, and General Shale has not yet obtained such a permit.
The report notes the possibility of adverse impacts on groundwater, and asks General Shale to supply a long list of information about the proposed mine's impact, including:
There are many other similar criticisms in DMME's report.
The DMME's report has a few deficiencies itself (notably in the areas of noise and fences), but it incorporates most of the criticisms the community has been voicing for the last several months.