Construction camps approved
The Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors held a series of public hearings Tuesday, voting unanimously to add a special use permit process for construction camps in the I-1, General Industrial District and then voting unanimously to allow two such permits.
One of the permits was requested by Lapp and Associates, Inc. to operate a construction camp providing up to 150 campsites located at 300 Industrial Park Road. A sister permit request was made by Rock and Metal, LLC to operate a construction camp providing up to 30 campsites located at 300 SMI Way.
No one spoke at the public hearings.
Supervisors first addressed the proposed amendment to the zoning ordinance, which was listed in the board agenda packet for Tuesday’s special meeting.
The packet notes that the amendment would be “adding a special use permit process for “Construction Camps” in the I-1, General Industrial District, to allow temporary housing (i.e. recreational vehicles) for employees/labor drawn to the area by large extended construction projects.”
The packet notes that staff also suggests the following definition of “Construction Camps” be added to Article Vi 6-200.3 C of the County Zoning Ordinance: “Sites that provide temporary housing (i.e. recreational vehicles) for a large influx of employees/labor drawn to the area by large extended construction projects. These camps are meant to minimize the strain on local resources, limit social impacts on the community and allow control and order to be imposed on the occupants.”
The practicality of these changes to the zoning ordinance was also highlighted in the packet.
“The workforce associated with the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) coupled with the workers that will be employed on the renovation of Curry-Frazier residence halls and new admissions building will place a strain on local housing resources,” officials note in the packet. “Many of the workers associated with the ACP project will bring fifth wheelers and other recreational vehicles to reside in and will be looking for places to locate their recreational vehicles. Without established sites such as construction camps, the demand will create significant incentives for local landowners to allow the unsupervised use of their land.”
At the beginning of Tuesday’s public hearings, County Administrator Wade Bartlett said the issue of construction camps had been in front of the Prince Edward County Planning Commission earlier that evening.
“They approved, I might as well say by now, all three of them, the special use permits and the amendment to the zoning ordinance,” he said.
Bartlett highlighted a key distinction of the construction camps.
“The major difference between this and the campgrounds, which are allowed in other areas of the county, (is) that these are temporary or the length of whatever project that we’re talking about,” he said.
Before the board voted, Buffalo District Supervisor C.R. “Bob” Timmons Jr. took issue with the wording of “temporary housing.”
“Is that the correct term for our ordinance?” he asked.
Bartlett said, “There is a difference between recreational vehicles and actual residential structures. They’re defined differently in both the state code and our zoning ordinance.”
Tim Tharpe, of J.R. Tharpe Trucking, was in attendance and confirmed there were no plans to build any houses or any kind of structures to house people at the construction camp.
Bartlett agreed to change the wording from “temporary housing” to something like “temporary sites and hookups and connections for recreational vehicles.”
The first special use permit considered was the one requested by Rock and Metal, LLC. It will provide up to 30 campsites at 300 SMI Way on Tax Map Parcel 023B-1-V owned by SMI-Owen Steel Company, Inc.
“This use will be temporary, with a three-year sunset provision to run from the beginning of the construction period, which that is yet to be determined, but it should be in the next few months,” Bartlett said.
The board packet states, “The proposed facility will be required to use public water/sewer obtained from the Town of Farmville.”
“All water and sewer infrastructure will be removed at the end of the three-year period so that this does not become a permanent campsite,” Bartlett said.
He noted that with planning commission approval and the county receiving no phone calls in opposition to the permit request, “the staff is recommending approval of the request. The camp will not be visible from any residential properties, and there will be only limited visibility from an adjoining commercial activity which already has significant outside storage, that’s the Farmer’s Co-op. The site is fenced and access will be controlled minimizing the impact to the public (…) The site will be graveled, and a stormwater plan must be submitted and approved prior to final site plan approval.”
Bartlett noted the special use conditions that were approved earlier by the planning commission “were shielded lightings, so they would be downward facing, of course everything is temporary, it will be removed, (Virginia Department of Transportation) will have to approve any traffic analysis and plan, they’ll have to obtain water and sewer from the Town of Farmville, which I’ve talked to the town manager on this, and they were waiting for y’alls action, but it looks like they will approve that. And those are the major items that we have on there. Quiet hours after 10 p.m., that was added on there.”
There also needs to be a security guard on-site.
“There’ll be somebody there almost all the time probably with the equipment and all, because there’s going to be some expensive equipment out there and all,” Bartlett said. “I doubt there’s going to be a lot of public pulling out in that space. As I said, it’s fenced.”
Leigh District Supervisor Jerry R. Townsend asked if there is adequate lighting out there.
“Oh, yeah, and if they have to, they’re going to add lighting,” Bartlett said. “They have to be on-site at 7 in the morning, so you can take it from how early they would have to leave, it would be way before school buses, and they’re going to work 12-hour days, so they won’t be back till after 6 or so in the evenings.”
He added that carpooling of workers will also help reduce traffic.
The sister special use permit request from Lapp and Associates, Inc. was for a construction camp providing up to 150 campsites at 300 Industrial Park Road on Tax Map Parcel 023B-A-1 owned by Lapp and Associates, Inc.
Like the other permit request, “this use will be temporary, with a three-year sunset provision to run from the beginning of the construction period. The proposed facility will be required to provide public water and sewer obtained from the Town of Farmville.”
Listing the impacts of the project, the packet reads, “The owner will develop the property in stages, expanding as demand dictates. Each stage will contain approximately 50 sites. The initial stage will be located on the south portion of the site adjacent to Fire Training Road. This area is approximately 12 feet below grade of the existing building.”
Bartlett highlighted buffers that are referred to in the packet.
“An existing buffer of evergreen trees as depicted on the conceptual site plan will be maintained as displayed,” the packet reads. “The buffer coupled with the elevation differences and the existing building will shield the entire camp from view.”
A preliminary traffic analysis offered at Tuesday’s meeting indicated that Industrial Park Road has lost about 600 vehicles per day in usage compared to 2001 due to different industries closing, and the construction camps will essentially restore that amount with an influx of traffic before rush hour in the morning and after it in the evening.