A tale of two borrow pits

Published 10:12 pm Thursday, December 6, 2018

Suffolk’s City Council unanimously approved a borrow pit during their Wednesday night meeting, but a similar proposal just across the line in Isle of Wight County is having a harder time getting past planners.

Both borrow pits are located on property owned by Everets Properties Inc., and both applications involve Rose Sand LLC. The Isle of Wight borrow pit application was submitted by Rose Sand and the owner, and the Suffolk borrow pit was technically submitted by a lawyer on behalf of Norfolk Automatic Coin Laundry, Lynn Rose and Everets Properties.

According to a narrative description submitted to Suffolk’s planning department, Bay Sand Company and Rose Sand LLC along with the owners proposed the expansion of an existing borrow pit operation.

Email newsletter signup

The two borrow pits are also close in proximity. The Suffolk borrow pit will be located off of Audubon Road, very close to the county line. The Isle of Wight borrow pit’s proposed location is less than two miles away, at the corner of Longview Drive and Sandy Ridge Road.

Suffolk’s City Council approved the necessary rezoning and conditional use permit during their Wednesday night meeting. There was no opposition to either application present at the meeting.

On the other hand, Isle of Wight’s planning commission spent more than an hour listening to citizens of their community and residents of Longview Drive and Sandy Ridge Lane during their Nov. 27 meeting before ultimately deciding to not recommend approval to the Board of Commissioners.

Most of the input came from homeowners directly affected by the borrow pit operations and a nearby church that will also be affected.

Complaints included issues with noise, traffic and public health and safety.

“I come to you on behalf of the church community to oppose this application for two reasons. The granting of the permit will endanger public health and safety and the general welfare,” said Christian Home Baptist Church Pastor Wendell Waller. Waller is also the School Board attorney in Suffolk.

The church is located adjacent to the proposed borrow pit.

“The pit will be contrary to the goals and objectives in the Isle of Wight comprehensive plan. Granting the permit will create an unreasonable risk of injury for seniors,” Waller said.

The borrow pit will increase the traffic on Sandy Ridge Road significantly, and Waller believes that traffic will directly impact seniors who are coming to the church on Thursday afternoons. Waller fears delayed reaction time and driving skills will cause them to get into accidents with a large number of trucks hauling sand.

While the planning department of Isle of Wight believes that the borrow pit won’t cause health concerns, Waller believes the dust can pose a problem for those that already have upper respiratory issues.

Homeowners also believe that the pit can cause much more than an inconvenience with traffic in the area. The borrow pit has the potential to take away a well and cause a tremendous amount of noise.

“We’ve been doing this (borrow pits) for a long time, and what we can’t avoid is dewatering,” said Longview Drive resident Robert Black. “I put a second well onto my property because I’m an avid gardener, and the guy that drilled the hole said he hit a lot of sand and a lot of water. As they dewater, my shallow well is less than 1,000 feet from them. I’m concerned I’m going to lose water in that well.”

With the potential of 50 to 60 more vehicle trips a day on the road, Carol Peterson, a Longview Drive resident and professional geologist, is concerned that she will lose the peace and quiet that she moved to Isle of Wight to find.

“I build my dream home on this land and we revel in the quiet and the sound of nature,” Peterson said. “One of the things we are concerned about is the noise. The buffer is only 225 feet from Longview Drive. We have a 100-foot buffer on each side of our property, and the church has temporary construction going on that is 1,000 feet from us and you can hear the equipment.”

“Our home is only 500 feet from the proposed pit.”

The concerns of the citizens outweighed the possible financial benefits, and the Isle of Wight Planning Commission voted 8-2 for a recommendation for denial.

Chairwoman Cynthia Taylor and Vice Chairman Brian Carroll voted against the motion.

Carroll attempted to move to have the application tabled for another month because of a large number of comments from citizens, but the other members voted with the initial motion to recommend denial.

The application will now go to their Board of Supervisors, which will consider the application on Dec. 13.