On Tuesday the Clarke County Board of Supervisors took a small first step towards the possible construction of a waste recycling convenience center within closer reach of residents living in the northeast section of the County. The Supervisor’s authorized Chairman Michael Hobert (Berryville) to sign a two-acre lease for property near the Stuart Perry quarry just off Route 7. The lease cost for the two-acre site will be only one dollar per year for forty years thanks to the generosity a local business owner. After expressing support for the recycling center, the three citizens who attended the evening public hearing spent most of their allotted speaking time pleading with the Supervisors to address dangerous rush hour driving conditions on Route 7.
The lease for the property, which does not commit the Supervisors to actually building the recycling center itself, must be signed by June 16.
“We have to accept the lease now if we want to use the property but the facility may not be built right away,” said Supervisor John Staelin (Millwood). “This is just the first step in the process.”
Staelin, and Supervisor David Weiss (Buckmarsh), both of whose election districts cover the County’s northeast and eastern sections, have spoken in support of the recycling center which will offer their constituents a closer alternative than driving to the Frederick County Landfill.
“I’ve repeatedly heard two concerns from people in my district,” Weiss said. “Can we get an alternative so that we don’t have to drive to the dump and the high speeds on Route 7”.
Although 25% of Clarke County’s population lives on the Blue Ridge east of the Shenandoah River, the only waste disposal facilities available are in Clear Brook and White Post and a shared facility with Warren County in Shenandoah Farms.
County Administrator David Ash said that he has received preliminary cost estimates of between $350K and $500K to build the center. Ash envisions that the facility would operate four days a week, ten hours per day using two part-time employees to manage the operation. Ash also recommended that the recycling center schedule mirror the Frederick County landfill hours of operation.
Ash said he estimates that the cost of operating the facility will be about $50,000 per year which includes manpower and waste removal fees.
The three citizens who attended the hearing, Jim and Della Bogaty who live on Quarry Road and Doug Whitehouse who lives on the mountain, all agreed that the recycling center was needed but each added their concerns about access to and from the Quarry Road given heavy traffic and poor site distances at the intersection of Route 7.
“Otherwise,” Whitehouse said in reference to traffic safety concerns “the majority of people who live on the mountain would appreciate this”.
“Crossing Route 7 can sometimes take us ten minutes,” Jim Bogaty said. “I’m as ‘green as the next guy, but what are you doing to handle safety concerns?”
Administrator Ash said that according to the Virginia Department of Transportation, sight distance at the Quarry Road – Route 7 intersection is already sufficient and no additional measures have been recommended.
Bogaty’s wife, Della, characterized Route 7 as “out of control.” Whitehouse agreed that additional safety measures would be a good idea.
However, Supervisor Barbara Byrd (Russell) – who has previously expressed concerns about traffic safety for the project – said that there was still time to work with VDOT to see if additional safety steps could be taken. The ensuing traffic remediation issues discussed by Byrd included a traffic light and flashing road signs to warn of traffic entering Route 7.
Left and right-turn lanes from Route 7 onto Quarry Road are already in place.
After expressing concerns about the traffic on Route 7, Della Bogaty inquired about whether some form of deal had been made between the site’s owner, Denny Perry, and the County in exchange for the dollar-per-year lease agreement.
“What’s he getting in return for this?” Bogaty asked.
Supervisor David Weiss replied that in discussions with Perry – who also owns the adjacent quarry – since the County will have the right to use the site for forty years the only thing Perry was gaining was the chance that lease payments could go up at the end of the forty year contract term
“Denny Perry said to me that this community has been very good to him over the years and that he just wants to give back something in return,” Weiss said.
The Supervisors voted unanimously to authorize Hobert to sign the lease agreement pending review by legal counsel.