MAUZY, Va. (WHSV) – Several people in Mauzy are voicing their opposition to a proposed truck stop that would be built on a 31-acre property just off Interstate 81 at exit 257. The Rockingham County Board of Supervisors will consider the proposal on Wednesday afternoon.
Leesburg-based Gas City LLC is applying for property rezoning to rezone property from A-2 General Agriculture to BX Business Interchange. The county planning commission narrowly recommended approval of the project with a 3-2 vote earlier in August.
Since the proposal was first presented, a number of Mauzy residents have urged supervisors to vote no on the truck stop proposal. They cite a number of issues, including environmental concerns.
“The main issue for us is that this site which has no water or public sewer is not compatible with a project of this size and scope,” said Watt Bradshaw who lives downstream from the property.
Bradshaw is part of a fourth generation family farm along Smith Creek. He is concerned that runoff from the truck stop will contaminate groundwater and the creek.
“Our farm has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars improving the stream, as have many of my neighbors, and we wouldn’t want that compromised by necessary projects like this,” Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw is not alone in his worries. Alliance for the Shenandoah Valley, a Ilocal conservation group, recently sent a letter to county supervisors urging them to refuse the project. He said the area’s karst topography makes it likely runoff from the truck stop could pollute groundwater.
“The underground is a bit like Swiss cheese. So you see a lot of sinkholes in the karst areas, you see a lot of caves and springs. So it’s a sign that there is a connection between surface water and groundwater,” said Kate Wofford, executive director of Alliance For the Shenandoah Valley.
Wofford said Smith Creek is a major tributary of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River and said the truck stop could contaminate the creek.
“It’s a creek that is important to the community. It is an important source of drinking water and it is a risky place to put a development of this scale that is not on public sewers and water,” she said.
Opponents also point out that the project would run counter to Rockingham County’s overall plan.
“The Rockingham County compensation plan makes it very clear that the county wants to maintain agriculture by locating development in areas where there are existing towns, where there are public sewers and water,” said Wofford said.
Watt Bradshaw said the amount of water the truck stop plaza would need would be overwhelming to groundwater in the area due to the lack of public water and sewage.
“The water usage that this project would have could be up to 300 homes and they would never allow 300 homes to go into a site like this without public water and sewer,” he said.
Theresa Kehm lives directly opposite the property and fears the lorry stop will have a devastating impact on her property.
“We had to drill a 750 foot well to get three gallons per minute and we are very concerned that in the absence of public water, when they start drilling for their well or several wells, they will dry up. ours,” Kehm said. “Essentially, it would render our property absolutely worthless.”
Kehm and her husband moved to the Pocono Mountains region of Pennsylvania 22 years ago. She said they left the Poconos due to overdevelopment issues and would hate to see the same thing happen in Rockingham County.
“There are a lot of small towns where the streets are just lined with what used to be nice little businesses and now they’re run down, vacant properties, and among that you have mega businesses,” she said. “It’s heartbreaking to go back and look at this and know what it once was and it’s also heartbreaking to think that if this county doesn’t get a grip on this problem, we’re going to have the same problems here.”
Residents are also worried about the traffic problems the truck stop could bring.
“This outing at certain times of the day is completely blocked. The cars are backed up on I-81 and in the morning they are backed up on 259 all the way around the corner above the stop light, so we think traffic is a major issue,” Bradshaw said.
WHSV spoke briefly with Gurcharan Leil, the owner of Gas City LLC on Tuesday.
Leil said the truck stop would be a good neighbor to the residents of Mauzy and said the storm water management system that would be installed on the property would prevent any runoff issues. He added that the truck stop would also have a state-of-the-art water and oil separator when draining runoff.
The Rockingham County Board of Supervisors will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at the Rockingham County Government Center.
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