The Essex County Airport Authority is seeking to rezone 24 acres of airport property outside Tappahannock from agriculture to light industry.
Barry Bates of the Airport Authority said one business has showed interest in establishing a dry fertilizer blending facility at the site in question. In response to a citizen’s inquiry, Bates said Southern States is currently the only business offering that type of service in Essex County. The retail showroom portion of Southern States, however, closed last year.
“They’re still blending there a little bit, but we don’t know how long for,” Bates said, adding that trucks would be pulling up to the proposed facility.
He noted that no other businesses have currently shown interest in the site.
“We’re very excited to get this one,” Bates said at the planning commission meeting.
Planners replied to another citizen inquiry about potentially rezoning the acreage for a heavier use by noting that light industrial is the heaviest industry they want on the property.
In response to questions about environmental concerns, Building and Zoning Director Jeff Hodges said that the site will likely be scrutinized more closely than a regular rezoning given its location at the airport facility.
“I don’t know why when the airport was originally put there, it was not zoned light industrial at the time, but it has always been the plan since the inception of the airport,” Hodges said. “It’s the goal of the Airport Authority and the county to increase business and create [jobs in the area.]”
Hodges also responded to a question from the audience about the business potentially increasing property values by saying that it could occur over a long period of time, but was uncertain about the short-term effects.
Bates said that the Dept. of Environmental Quality will be involved in the process.
The planning commission voted to recommend the property’s rezoning to the Essex County Board of Supervisors.
Members of the Airport Authority on the planning commission abstained from voting.