On ‘borrow’-ed time? Pit proposal delayed again

Published 7:33 pm Friday, August 19, 2022

A proposal to allow for two borrow pits in Chuckatuck near the Isle of Wight County line has been tabled for the second time in three months and is now scheduled to come before City Council again in November.

Deputy City Manager Kevin Hughes said Ryan Nelms of Ryan Material Inc., the developer, asked for the delay in a public hearing that had been scheduled on a conditional use permit for the proposed project for the Aug. 17 meeting. Council is now scheduled to hold a public hearing for the permit at its Nov. 16 meeting.

“The request is for time to present an alternative access route to what is currently shown in the application,” Hughes said.

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It had previously requested a delay before council’s May 18 meeting, which came about a month after the Planning Commission had unanimously voted against recommending a conditional use permit to allow for the two borrow pits.

If granted, the conditional use permit would allow the developer to put in two new borrow pits on about 126.8 acres that were previously used for timber harvesting, with one pit about 27 acres and the other about 12 acres.

The surface mining operation would last between three and seven years, with the potential for minimum of 40 to 60 dump truck trips in and out of the site daily, with the potential for up to 150 trips.

The borrow pits would be in Suffolk, but the 2.8 miles of haul routes for them are in Isle of Wight. Under the current proposal, dump trucks accessing the site would use Shady Pine Lane, a narrow, gravel one-lane private residential road as the main way to get in and out, otherwise known as its legal ingress and egress easement.

Those living in Isle of Wight and Suffolk near the proposed site had cited safety issues with the roads leading into and out of it as a primary concern.

In an April letter to the city’s planning office, Isle of Wight Community Development Director Amy Ring said the county measured two “typical sections” of Longview Drive between Shady Pine Lane and Sandy Ridge Drive and found pavement width to be 17 feet, with variable 1- to 2-foot grass shoulders and ditches, as well as poor pavement conditions in several areas.

The pavement widths of two typical sections of Sandy Ridge Drive from the intersection of Longview Drive to the Suffolk boundary at Audubon Road range from 15 feet to 16 feet, with poor pavement conditions, rolled edges, trash cans, mailboxes and other features cutting the width of the road to less than 15 feet in some areas. The pavement width on Audubon Road at the Isle of Wight/Suffolk line maintenance transition point is 22 feet with 2-foot grass shoulders and ditches.

County Planning Commission Chairman Brian Carroll also noted that Shady Pine, Longview and Sandy Ridge are not in the county’s short- or long-term plans for improvements.

Previously, County Commissioner Randy Keaton said he wasn’t opposed to a borrow pit in Suffolk, but asked that the conditional use permit be denied unless there was an alternate route for it directly to the 22-foot wide Audubon Road and not use county roads.

For now, the proposed permit request has been delayed again, with the project developer at least indicating it is working to find a different route in and out of the proposed borrow pit.