A proposed asphalt plant on U.S. 221, across from the Mohawk plant, drew plenty of protests from citizens during a public hearing at the Hillsville Town Council meeting on June 11.
The hearing stems from a rezoning request by Jeremy Hendrick, who hopes to build the plant on a portion of the property now owned by Lacy Bowman. Hendrick, who has an option on the property, wants the land rezoned from general commercial and residential to industrial.
The property borders both Carroll County High School and a residential area, which has raised the concerns of nearby landowners. They voiced their concerns over possible health hazards and increased traffic.
“I have no objection to an asphalt plant as long as it’s somewhere else,” said Marion Alderman. “I don’t think it should be near the high school, and there’s a residential area behind it and above it.”
Alderman added that the highway in that location is already congested with plant and school traffic.
Daryl Largen pointed to health concerns, saying “I have a son with a brain aneurism and a daughter with heart problems and asthma. It (the plant) don’t need to be there.”
“I’m a resident of Raintree Road. We’re about 400 to 500 yards away from the proposed site of the asphalt plant,” said Frank Alvis. “I’m assuming there would be a lot of smoke and steam from the plant. Explain to me what the industrial park (about a quarter of a mile from the proposed site) is for. What advantage is there to building in our front yard rather than in the industrial park, which has been set aside for such things.”
Jane Napier, who lives on Lynnhaven Road, said she “was totally against it. You can go on the internet and see all the health hazards. Plus the traffic, it’s a busy place. I am absolutely against it being rezoned.”
A handout Napier had printed off the internet said that asphalt fumes, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, can cause “headaches, skin rashes, fatigue, reduced appetite, throat and eye irritation and coughing.” In addition, OSHA studies have linked asphalt fumes to “lung, stomach and skin cancers.”
Troy Ross, who lives on Cumberland Drive, suggested a study be done on any effects the plant would have on the nearby area.
“Has anybody decided to do a study on the effect the plant would have on our people and the students at Carroll County High School?” Ross asked. “I recommend a rezoning not be done until a study has been done. Why not put the plant there when we have an industrial park to put it in? Who’s it going to benefit?”
Graham Laird, another resident of Lynnhaven Road, said if the rezoning was approved, “I will sell my house. It’s not something I can live with.”
Hendrick then spoke, saying, “I’m the cause of all the problems. Let me answer your concerns.”
“The reason I choose this site as opposed to other sites is because I have an engineering business (Nehemiah Engineering) in the town of Hillsville. I enjoy working with the town of Hillsville so I wanted to stay in the town limits,” he said.
Another plus, said Hendrick, is the cheaper cost of natural gas. The Industrial Development Authority is presently working on a natural gas line to Mohawk.
“It’s common knowledge that if the natural gas line doesn’t come through, Mohawk is gone. Natural gas is more efficient than propane,” he said.
Hendrick added that “VDOT has already approved a commercial entrance.”
Hendrick’s final argument for the rezoning involved the “economic impact” the plant would have on the town’s revenue.
“As far as gross receipts, I expect about $2 million in the beginning. In another two to three years, I think that will increase to $3 to $4 million,” he said, adding, that his initial investment would amount to around $1 million.