Convenience store request OK'd

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By John Barnhart

Bedford County's supervisors, Monday night, approved a special use permit for convenience store on Hardy Road.

The special use permit request generated considerable opposition from residents of the Virginia Ridge subdivision, located on the other side of Hardy Road from the proposed convenience store. Concern had also been expressed by the Virginia Ridge Water Company, which serves the subdivision. The water company had requested a wellhead protection overlay and the planning commission had recommended it. By Monday night, however, the water company requested a delay in the public hearing on the overlay.

Only one person spoke at the supervisors' public hearing on the convenience store. Walter Feather, who also lives across Hardy Road from the site, spoke in favor of the store and presented a petition that he said contained the signatures of 513 people who want it.

"We always had a store in Hardy," he said.

"This has been quite an issue in my home community, Hardy," commented District 1 Supervisor Dale Wheeler.

Wheeler said that Hardy was a planned village and that it had a store most of his life. He added that dollars spent in the Roanoke Valley don't provide tax money in Bedford County. Furthermore, the county doesn't have to educate a store and residential development can be costly to taxpayers.

"The entrepreneurial spirit needs to be supported in Bedford County," he said, adding that its wrong to trip up people, who want to start a business, buy putting burdens on them that others don't have.

"I first learned about politics at a country store where men sat around and talked about the board of supervisors and wondered why they were so crazy," he commented.

Wheeler moved that the permit be approved, dropping on condition that the planning commission had placed on the permit. The planning commission called for point of service holding tanks to collect spills from gas pumps and storm water runoff from the pavement around the pumps. Alicia Meadows, a senior petroleum facility inspector with the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), had earlier told the supervisors that DEQ does not recommend such tanks. Meadow said that this creates a potential for point-source pollution. DEQ recommends allowing it to run off into a surrounding, pervious surface where it will dissipate and self-remediate.

Wheeler's motion added a condition calling for double-walled fuel tanks and double-walled piping. Meadows had told the supervisors that DEQ will require these next year.

This motion passed unanimously.

In other business, the supervisors unanimously approved the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) proposal to realign Va. 655 where it crosses Va. 122 in Moneta. Currently vehicles traveling east on Va. 655 must make a right turn on Va. 122 then, less than 100 yards later, make a left turn to resume their eastward journey. The VDOT project will turn this into one intersection.

The two existing intersections both have traffic signals, one of which is at the entrance to Shop Rite. County Administrator Kathleen Guzi said that VDOT will conduct a traffic study to decide if both signals are needed after the realignment is completed.

"I think the proposal needs to move forward and needs to be completed," said District 2 Supervisor Chuck Neudorfer.

After the meeting, Wheeler brought up the issue of wellhead protection overlays. He said that the county has very little land zoned commercial or industrial. He is worried that these overlays could prevent business possibilities. He wanted to direct county staff to develop an ordinance to ban wellhead protection overlays in areas zoned agricultural village, commercial or industrial.

"To me it's common sense," he said.

One supervisor can't direct staff to do this and, if the proposal isn't on the agenda, the board, by its own rules, must be in unanimous agreement. That wasn't going to happen Monday night.

"I'm business friendly myself, but I want to protect water," said District 3 Supervisor Roger Cheek.

Wheeler agreed to have the subject put on the agenda for the next meeting noting that gives him a chance to get it on a 4-3 vote.