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The Southeast Action Forum voted to fight a rezoning request made to the city.
Friday, August 2, 2013
Neighbors of a proposed propane and butane tank farm in southeast Roanoke voted their unanimous opposition to the project Thursday night.
Roughly 60 community residents crammed into the Southeast Action Forum's monthly meeting for a briefing on the project.
They voted to oppose a request to the city made by a Missouri-based energy firm to rezone land between the Morningside neighborhood and the Roanoke River to allow heavy industry. The land is vacant now and is zoned for light industrial use.
Laura Padgett, who lives about a block and half from the edge of the land where Inergy Services LLC wants to build the tank farm and terminal, said she was worried about safety.
"Not only would we have tanks sitting there, we'd have trucks going there and tank cars going in and out," she said. "It's a big impact on the neighborhood."
"It's a hop, skip and a jump to the school," said Jay McCanless, referring to Morningside Elementary School.
Duane Howard said he was concerned that Inergy's long-term plans were even bigger than the three 60,000-gallon tanks for storing propane and two 90,000-gallon tanks for butane that it has told city officials it wants to build.
"It's like opening Pandora's box," once the land is rezoned, he said. There'd be nothing to keep them from adding more tanks, he said. A rezoning could also clear the way for other kinds of heavy industry, even a steel mill, on the unused portion of the site.
Inergy wants to invest $3.6 million in the project. The company expects the terminal will employ five people, and hopes to serve gas marketing firms in the area. Its plans say the company expects there would be about 10 railcars on the site at any one time.
Southeast Action Forum president Mark Powell said neighborhood associations across the city have told them they will oppose the project.
The company says it believes the site is fairly isolated from neighbors, located about 450 feet west of the Roanoke River and 1,230 feet from 13th Street. T he Norfolk Southern right of way and steep wooded bluffs separate the site from the Morningside neighborhoods to the north while the Roanoke River floodway buffers the site from homes to the east.
The land has been owned since the 1960s by Roanoke Valley Development Corp. or affiliated entities. Local business leaders set up the corporation back then in order to buy the American Viscose plant and woo industry to Roanoke.
The land last changed hands in July, when a partnership called Industrial Development and Investment Co. sold the land to one of its own partners, Roanoke Valley IDICO, for about $568,000, based on the tax paid on the transaction.
Roanoke Valley IDICO wants to sell the land to Inergy and reinvest the proceeds in other economic development projects, company president Jay Turner said.
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