The future of a long-standing asphalt plant on the city’s west side is a topic that has been a discussion at City Hall for years. But now that dozens of speakers have aired their views at a public hearing last month, the issue about the future of Virginia Paving is coming into closer focus. The company is seeking a new special-use permit that would allow it to operate during nighttime hours, a move that many Cameron Station residents and Tucker Elementary School parents say would increase levels of air pollution. During a work session Monday evening at City Hall, three alternative plans emerged.
Councilman Tim Lovain offered a plan that would limit the plant to 110 nighttime operations a year. Councilwoman Del Pepper countered with a proposal to limit Virginia Paving to 30 nighttime operations a year. And Vice Mayor Andrew Macdonald proposed limiting the plant to 5,000 tons a day or 700,000 tons a year. City officials are putting together a document they call a “matrix” that will detail various provisions of the competing proposals.
“It’s a complicated issue,” said Brian Hannigan, the city’s director of communications.
The Monday work session featured presentations from Dr. Charles Konigsberg, director of the city’s health department, and Rebecca Perry, superintendent of the city’s school division. During the Oct. 14 public hearing, members of the City Council asked for input from both Konigsberg and Perry — both of whom stated that they didn’t have any problem with Virginia Paving’s request.
“About two years ago, the city permanently placed an air-quality monitoring device at the school, which they read and monitor and there have been no concerns from the city,” Perry wrote in an Oct. 27 memorandum. “I also checked with our nurse coordinator to monitor asthma cases at the schools and discovered that Tucker does not have an increased number of students with asthma. In fact, the cases of asthma at Tucker (a large school) are smaller than the number of cases at George Mason.”
Konigsberg said that the Health Department had no information that would lead him to deny the request from Virginia Paving. In a Nov. 1 letter to City Manger Jim Hartmann, Konigsberg supported the proposed special-use permit supported by Virginia Paving. In his letter, Konigsberg said that his understanding of the situation is that the proposed special-use permit that Virginia Paving is supporting would actually increase air-quality standards on the west end.
“This is a minor source of pollution,” Konigsberg told council members on Monday. “This does not rise to the level of a serious concern.”