Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Brick Company Withdraws Application; Would Have Created 1000 Acre Open-Pit Mine

Published: March 4, 2009

CHATHAM – A brick manufacturer that wanted to open a factory in Pittsylvania County has withdrawn its applications for a special-use permit and rezoning of land off Berry Hill Road.

Odie Shelton, zoning administrator and director of code compliance for the county, announced Triangle Brick Co.’s decision during the Pittsylvania County Planning Commission’s regular meeting Tuesday night. Audience members applauded at Shelton’s announcement and about 75 people left the meeting held in the General District Courtroom.

The Planning Commission unanimously approved the withdrawal.

Scott Mollenkopf, president and chief executive officer of the Durham, N.C.-based company, notified county officials via e-mail Monday evening about the company’s decision. Mollenkopf, who did not attend the public hearing, could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening.

Residents in the Berry Hill Road area off westbound U.S. 58 said they were glad the company scuttled its plans.

“We’re just happy they withdrew,” said Julia Byrd, who lives off Buford Road near the site.

Byrd said she was concerned about the plant’s public health impacts. The project would have included open-pit, clay/shale mining on about 1,000 acres of land. Triangle applied for a special-use permit and requested that 1,328 acres off Berry Hill and Buford roads be rezoned from agricultural to heavy industry.

Thomas and Melissa Dabbs, whose property faces the proposed site, were concerned about health effects from the dust and pollution at the proposed plant. They moved to their property on Old Cabin Road about three years ago and felt the project would spoil the scenery and damage the quality of life there.

“We chose the spot because it’s peaceful, secluded,” Melissa Dabbs said.

Mollenkopf stated in the e-mail he would not attend scheduled public hearings on March 10 or March 17.

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