Edwards, supervisors debate proposed concrete factory

Published 10:06 am Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Isle of Wight County’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to postpone its vote on the conditional use permit application of Billy Edwards of Southern Casting LLC to construct a concrete and asphalt plant in the county after Board Chairman Rex Alphin raised concerns as to the facility’s impact on the environment and local community.

If approved, the facility would be located off of Lees Mill Road in the Carrsville District near the International Paper mill. Following a public hearing at which no one spoke for or against the application, Alphin expressed concerns about the amount of noise and dust the facility would generate.

“I’m very concerned about the aesthetics of the area,” he said. “I think the soil suitability needs to be addressed and the overall viability of the business itself.”

The soil suitability issue he raised relates to a memorandum sent from an environmental health specialist with the county’s Health Department to the county’s Department of Planning and Zoning during the initial application process, which said that the Health Department had not yet received any applications for soil studies to determine the suitability of the site for the installation of an on-site sewage disposal system.

Edwards said that the dust generated by the facility would be mitigated using bag houses, and agreed that he would still need to do soil studies.

Newport District Supervisor William McCarty asked how many employees he expected to hire, which Edwards said ranged from 45 to 65. He also estimated that it would cost over $1 million to construct the facility and that he expected the facility to bring in between $3 to $10 million annually.

“We’d like to share that with you, but if not, we have a backup location in Southampton County,” Edwards said.

Hardy District Supervisor Rudolph Jefferson said he shared Alphin’s concerns regarding dust, noise and the aesthetics of the area, but liked that Edwards was proposing to repurpose a vacant lot and bring jobs to the county.

“It’s not like the old days with chain drives and a lot of rattling; it’s mainly hydraulics,” Edwards said regarding the noise issue. He added that to address the aesthetics issue, he was willing to put up a privacy fence around the facility.

A somewhat heated debate between Alphin and Edwards ensued when Alphin questioned how realistic Edwards’ construction timeline was, given that Edwards had been working on a car wash facility in the Hunterdale area of Franklin for the past eight years.

“If it’s taken you eight years to build a car wash in the middle of Hunterdale, it gives me serious question how long it would take you to build a million dollar plant,” Alphin said.

Edwards said that the car wash was for his grandchildren to run and that he and his family had been working on the facility as funding permitted.

He estimated he had spent about $1 million on that facility as well, and that he had renovated it as funding permitted over the years.

Some brief confusion followed when Edwards implied that Alphin had attempted to sell him another car wash repeatedly.

However, Alphin clarified that the business dealings were actually between Edwards and one of Alphin’s cousins.

The next Board of Supervisors meeting will be a work session on Thursday, May 4, at 6 p.m.