A public garage in the Mount Hermon community received no recommendation for approval by the Pittsylvania County Planning Commission after neighbors to the property spoke out.
William Dawson, II, petitioned the planning commission and board of zoning appeals on May 31, 2019, for a special use permit on Mount Hermon Circle to bring a public garage on his property into compliance.
“I just want to be legal. That’s what I want to do,” Dawson said.
Dawson told the commission he built the shop in 2016 and closed it in.
“I have a two bay shop,” Dawson said. “I changed from one shop to another, closed down a dealership, and did bring in some unnecessary cars at the time. I make sure I respect all of my neighbors.”
Dawson told commissioner H.F. Haymore the shop is only open Monday through Thursday, and his other time is spent in ministry.
Two neighbors to the garage spoke against granting the permit. A petition of 20 neighbors on Mount Hermon Circle was also presented to the planning commission. Those who signed opposed the public garage.
Bonnie Meadors told the commission she was there to oppose the special use permit.
“Most residents on our state road are families that have been there for 20 years. Since January 2019, there has been increased traffic due to Mr. Dawson’s garage,” Meadors said.
Meadors opposed the shop due to noise created by tools and wreckers going to and from the shop. She also opposed the shop due to traffic and vehicles that are not covered.
“There are seven sitting in full view without tags and not under cover,” Meadors said.
“I’ve talked to [neighbor Bonnie Meadors] about moving out cars that have been there for two to three years,” Dawson said prior to public comment.
Dawson told the commission after Meadors spoke there’s, “only 10-percent of a car she could see.” He also told the commission he has 18 cars on the lot currently.
Lifelong Mount Hermon Circle resident Dianne McMahon said she lives directly across the street from Dawson, and does not approve of the garage.
“My main complaint is the traffic is really bad. It’s constant with cars going in and out, even at 10 and 11 at night. There have been rollbacks and wreckers blocking the road,” McMahon said. “It’s like Grand Central Station.”
Dawson countered McMahon by telling the commission he deals with one towing company, and has a 15-foot driveway from the bays to the road.
McMahon told the commission she fears emergency services wouldn’t be able to get through at times due to traffic created by the garage.
“He should have done more research before building the garage and then asking for this permit,” McMahon said.
Two individuals, Gerald Hughes and Joe Welcome, spoke on behalf of Dawson as, “a man of integrity.”
When prompted by the commission, five neighbors stood against the garage, and two stood for it.
Motley said he has been to the garage and saw 23 vehicles on the property during his visit.
“I stood in his yard… and could see 50 lawnmowers at the back of Wilson Lawn and Garden. But, it was well groomed and maintained. It was tight turning into his business as was noted,” Motley said.
The planning commission voted six to one to recommend the board of zoning appeals deny the special use permit for a public garage.
In other business, a proposed 900 acre solar farm in southwest Pittsylvania County was unanimously recommended for approval to the BZA.
The solar farm could be on the Pittsylvania County and Henry County border. The solar farm would spas over the county line on Michaux Road into Henry County.
“It’s near the [Southern Virginia Megasite at Berryhill], and it’s exciting to have this property come online,” Victoria Alexander, Coronal Energy representative, said.
The solar farm will have a maximum capacity of 50-megawatts of electricity on a 40 year lease for the land according to Alexander, with an estimated tax return would be around $800,000 over 40 years.
Another solar farm proposal on Roark Mill Road received unanimous recommendation to the BZA by the planning commission.
The solar farm according to Steven Young, development manager for Raleigh-Based Holocene Clean Energy, would span over 20 acres on two parcels of land. It would generate around 3 megawatts of electricity.
Holocene has over 20 solar farms in North Carolina and Virginia totaling 120 megawatts of electricity, according to planning commission documents.
The life expectancy of the solar farm is 30 to 40 years.
The planning commission unanimously recommended the Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors approve of current plans proposed by Appalachian Power for transmission lines for the Southern Virginia Megasite at Berry Hill.
Appalachian Power, represented by customer service engineer Davis Swisher, gave a presentation on the status of the proposed Berry Hill substation and transmission lines.
The project involves a five mile, 138 kilovolt transmission line and new substation for the Southern Virginia Megasite at Berry Hill.
The substation can support up to 100 megawatts of power according to George Porter with AEP.
"Virginia House of Delegates House bill 1840 allows us to move forward with construction even without a tenant," AEP corporate communications specialist John Shepelwich said.
“Our objective was to avoid and minimize impact to citizens and natural resources,” Swisher said.
Leon Griffin on behalf of Harmony United Methodist Church said they are excited about the lines coming through.
“Cascade is moving to the front,” Griffin said.
Waverly and Barbara Cousin said they have concerns over additional lines on their property.
“We already have three lines crossing our property… that’s taking 100 feet of right of way on our property,” Waverly Cousin said.
The Cousin’s were concerned with the usability of their 66 acres of land with the power lines coming through.
“We would like for [AEP] to seek other options. Is there any way they can shift the lines so we could use our property,” Waverly said. He noted he is for the project at Berry Hill.
The Cousin’s also said they are concerned about the threat of imminent domain.
Swisher said the power lines would take up around six acres of the Cousin’s property.
Beverly Cousin said she would like to see AEP come up with another plan.
“We picked this spot because we are pulling off and tapping the line on the Cousins’ land,” Swisher said.
Officials with AEP told the commission the Cousins would be fairly compensated for the land.
The next planning commission meeting is set for 7 p.m. in the Pittsylvania County General District Courtroom on Tuesday, Aug. 6.