Hearing on permit is Monday

Published 5:29 pm Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Numerous people are expected to speak during a lengthy public hearing Monday at 7 p.m. regarding a requested special use permit to build a 53,515 horsepower (hp) compressor station in Buckingham County.

The county’s planning commission will hold the hearing in the Peter Francisco Auditorium in the County Administration Complex on Route 60 just east of the courthouse.

The permit, which planners could take action on and forward to the county board of supervisors, is part of a 600-mile natural gas pipeline project being proposed by Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) LLC.

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According to Zoning and Planning Administrator Rebecca Cobb, speakers representing only themselves are allowed three minutes during hearings. Those representing groups are allowed five minutes.

The permit was introduced to the commission in August after 10 people spoke out against the station and pipeline project.d

“We look forward to presenting our application to the Buckingham Planning Commission on Monday and welcome the opportunity to address the commissioners’ questions,” ACP spokesman Aaron Ruby said. “We’ve made a number of improvements to the proposed facility, including additional layers of sound protection and natural buffers to minimize visual impacts. We have gone well above and beyond regulatory requirements by using best-in-class environmental controls to preserve air quality and minimize any sound impacts for nearby residents. We believe our application complies with the county’s comprehensive plan, and we’ve selected an appropriate location that will have minimal impacts on the surrounding community.”

If approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the resulting 42-inch pipeline would span Buckingham County. The station is planned for property along Route 56 between Shelton Store and Union Hill roads.

Before setting the Aug. 22 hearing, commissioners heard from representatives of Dominion, the lead partner in the venture, and asked numerous questions regarding buffers, sound, lighting, processing complaints and concerns, the life of the pipeline, the benefit to the county and its residents and pollutants.

Monday’s hearing will be based on 32 proposed conditions for the permit, including stipulations the station’s turbines be no stronger than 55,000 hp; there be no other industrial uses; construction noise between 9 p.m.-7 a.m. not exceed 60 decibels; and operating noise not exceed 55 decibels at property lines and any adjacent existing building not on the property, excluding the part of the property which fronts Route 56, where Dominion is proposing not to exceed 60 decibels.

Other conditions address fencing, signage, lighting, setbacks, buffer vegetation, building colors, emergency response, using silencers during blowdowns, discontinued use of the facility and compliance measures.

“Friends of Buckingham is preparing for the public hearing and is hopeful that many people will attend,” said Chad Oba, chair of Friends of Buckingham, a group opposed to the pipeline.

Oba said the group is “already seeing homes for sale that are not selling and have received calls from real estate agents and potential buyers who want to know about the placement of the Compressor station. This clearly indicates a problem with property values.”

Ruby said the project is “essential” to Virginia’s economic and environmental future through cleaner electricity, home heating and power for businesses.

The project is expected to contribute about $1.3 million in tax revenue to the county, which he says will help support county schools, roads and other local services.