Public hearings postponed

Published 12:32 pm Thursday, May 4, 2017

Two public hearings originally scheduled for Monday at 7 p.m. in Buckingham have been postponed.

The hearings — both pertaining to separate special use permits — regard Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) LLC seeking to erect a telecommunications tower on Route 56 and a separate permit from a firm seeking to erect a 195-foot telecommunications tower on Old Curdsville Road.

“They are being postponed because while preparing the items for the board packet, I realized that the adjacent landowners had not been properly notified,” said Zoning and Planning Administrator Rebecca S. Cobb. “Therefore, I will ask the board to reschedule these hearings, and we will re-advertise and send out letters to all the adjacent landowners.”

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“I just want you to know that this is not at the request of the board or the applicant but is a mistake that I made and fortunately caught before our meeting,” Cobb said in an email to The Herald.

In March, county planners voted 7-0-1 to recommend the county’s board of supervisors approve a special use permit that would allow Dominion Energy to erect a communications tower on the premises of a proposed 53,783- horsepower compressor station.

The station, which has been hotly contested among those living near its proposed site, is slated to be constructed between Shelton Store and Union Hill Roads on Route 56 and is part of a proposed 600-mile natural gas ACP that would span Buckingham County.

District Seven Supervisor Danny Allen, who represents the board of supervisors on the commission, abstained from voting on the permit recommendation. He’s an employee of Dominion, and has abstained from prior votes associated with the (ACP) project.

During the March planning commission meeting, Dominion State and Local Affairs Representative Emmett Toms said the tower’s proposed location was moved 190 feet away from the property line in comparison to previous plans for it to be located on the edge of the property, citing the tower’s collapsible mechanism in the case of it being damaged.

The move was made, he said, to keep the tower from disturbing the adjacent properties in the chance that it collapsed.

The tower’s 195-foot height is shy of the Federal Aviation Administration requirements that require a light signal on top.

Toms said the tower would have space for local law enforcement to locate communications equipment.

During the meeting, speakers — all of whom said they were against the compressor station — spoke in favor of placing fiber-optic cable in the ground where the pipeline would be in order to give residents the benefit of what they termed fast, communicative capabilities.

County supervisors approved a special use permit for the compressor station in January with 41 conditions, including horsepower limits, emergency response, air quality studies and emissions tests, installation of fire breaks, a backup emergency communications system, compliance with the permit, staffing and use of silencers and noise. The staffing condition included one staff member to be on site 24/7 for the first year.

The 5-0-2 decision came after 76 people spoke during a public hearing on the permit application. Seven of the 76 spoke in favor of the permit while the remainder that spoke opposed the measure.

In late December, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which has regulatory approval of the project, released its draft environmental impact statement (EIS) regarding the proposed pipeline, concluding the project’s impact would be “less than significant.” The final EIS will be available in June.

The applicant for the second public hearing — National Communications Towers LLC — is seeking the reissuing of an expired special use permit to allow the construction of a cell tower on 96 acres owned by Pete Senger. The property is zoned A-1 Agriculture.