Last updated: January 06. 2014 8:54PM - 1772 Views
Keith Strange Staff Reporter

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DOBSON — The Surry County Board of Commissioners has joined a growing coalition of localities opposing a proposed “landfarm” in Stokes County.

On a motion by Commissioner Paul Johnson and with a second by Commissioner Larry Phillips, the board unanimously voted to pass a resolution “strongly opposing” the proposal.

The impetus for the move comes on the heels of an application by Stokes County resident Raymond C. Brown III, who is seeking to rezone about 80 acres on two tracts of land off Highway 268 E. at Grassy Knob. The land is located just a half mile from the Pilot Mountain town limits.

In the application, Brown is seeking to have the tracts rezoned from the present rural agricultural to a heavy manufacturing conditional zoning district. He is seeking to install a “dedicated land treatment facility for the bioremediation of soil containing petroleum hydrocarbons.”

The process is a land farming procedure where soil containing petroleum by-products are transformed into usable soil through a natural process using microbes and bacteria.

But the proposal has drawn vocal opposition since it was first announced.

An estimated 120 people attended an informational meeting held at the Rock House Ruritan Club in Pinnacle last month, and the meeting rapidly became contentious with several members of the audience being asked to leave. Another 100 people attended a second public meeting Monday night.

In mid-December, the Stokes County Board of Commissioners began the process that would remove from the county’s zoning ordinance language that allows landfarms.

Monday night the Surry County board joined the Stokes County board in opposing the move.

Saying he has attended numerous meetings on the proposal, Johnson said the 50 or so Surry County residents who also attended the meetings came away “greatly concerned.”

“I’ve attended every one of the meetings because (the proposed site) is basically in my backyard,” he told the board Monday night. “I don’t oppose this site because we know we need to treat the land and soil, but it needs to be done in the proper place and under the proper conditions. The location they’ve picked here is not the proper location, and it’s the rezoning I oppose.”

Phillips agreed.

“There are a lot of environmental red flags that have come up regarding this, and I have serious problems with it,” he said. “It’s going to be environmentally unfriendly.”

Board Chair Eddie Harris echoed the concerns.

“I’ve visited the proposed site, and one of the concerns I have it there could be heavy industrial traffic in nearby residential neighborhoods,” he said. “It’s within a half mile of Main Street Pilot Mountain.”

Following approval of the resolution opposing the rezoning, Johnson asked for multiple copies of the resolution, which he will read before the Stokes County Planning Commission and the county’s board of commissioners.

Reach Keith Strange at kstrange@civitasmedia.com or 719-1929.

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