Commission tables borrow pit decision

Published 10:59 pm Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Suffolk Planning Commission on Tuesday tabled a conditional use permit request for a borrow pit on Copeland Road.

Sandy Bottom Materials, Inc., which has operated two borrow pits in the city previously, hopes to open the new pit on 283 acres at 2133 Copeland Road, near its intersection with Whaleyville Boulevard.

City staff recommended denial of the proposal, citing traffic concerns; violations issued to the company’s previous pits by city as well as the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy; and possible effects on nearby residents because of dust and water table levels.

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“It is staff’s opinion that the site in question is not appropriate for a borrow pit,” principal planner Gerry Smelt said.

Attorney Joshua Pretlow took exception to some of the staff report, saying that the violations were issued for administrative problems.

He added that area projects — including the CenterPoint Intermodal Center and the new U.S. Route 460 — will be needing the borrow pit’s services in the coming months and years.

“It’s not coming out of state highway pits, because they don’t have any pits,” Pretlow said of the dirt that will be needed for the 460 project.

Pretlow added the borrow pit will be better than its current agricultural use because no chemicals will be sprayed on crops.

During a public hearing, the only speaker besides Pretlow was Melvin Brown Sr., who lives nearby. He wanted to know how he would be compensated if the borrow pit affected the water level in his well.

Pretlow responded that the project would be bonded with the state, which would cover any potential impacts to area wells.

At Pretlow’s request, the commissioners tabled a decision on the project until their meeting on April 19.