Sponsored by Friends of Barboursville
See news story, and watch this site for more details as they become available.
On Wednesday, May 8 2002, Friends of Barboursville (FoB) and 37 individual complainants filed suit against the Orange County Board of Supervisors and General Shale, challenging the decision made by the Board of Supervisors to grant a Special Use Permit to General Shale. The permit would allow the company to conduct an open-pit shale mine on a 139-acre parcel of land in Barboursville.
The lawsuit charges that the county's decision to issue the permit was arbitrary and capricious, and that the permit violates the county's zoning ordinances. After more than a year, the case went to trial on September 25, 2003, in Orange County Circuit Court.
After half a day in court, Judge Daniel Bouton stopped the proceedings in order to consider motions made by General Shale and Orange County.
Six weeks later, on November 7, Judge Bouton unexpectedly ruled from the bench, dismissing he lawsuit. This move left many of those involved in the case to find out about the ruling through the news media.
Judge Bouton ruled that the Orange County code allows "accessory uses" to go across zoning boundaries when a parcel of land has two zones. In this case, part of the property is zoned agricultural and part residential. The judge ruled that General Shale's hauling operation through the residential zone (16,200 dump truck loads of material per year) was allowable because it was an accessory use to the work that the company would be doing on the agricultural-zoned part of the property.
The complainants had argued that this position was not in accordance with either state or county law. State law clearly holds that zoning ordinances must be uniform throughout each zone. Allowing uses in split-zoned lots that are not allowed in single-zone lots would violate this requirement of the Virginia code.
Further, the complainants argued that the section of the county code dealing with Special Use Permits does not grant accessory uses at all. Accessory uses are only granted for by-right uses. In the case of special use permits, the code clearly intends that all uses must be explicitly spelled out. (Click here to see the relevant sections of state and county law.)
On June 15, 2004, the Supreme Court of Virginia agreed to hear an appeal of Judge Bouton's decision. The complainants feel very confident that they of will prevail at the Supreme Court level.
On April 9, 2002, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted 3 to 1 to approve a Special Use Permit allowing strip-mining at a site near Barboursville, Virginia. This decision, if it is allowed to stand, will have a devastating effect on the area. The proposed mine site is surrounded by dozens of families' homes. It will be detrimental to many businesses that depend on the area's thriving tourist economy. It will put a scar in the middle of one of the state's most beautiful historic landscapes. We extend our sympathy to all those whose homes and businesses have been condemned by this arbitrary and capricious decision. We have not given up, and will continue to fight on your behalf.
The proposed mining operation would send 30-50 dump truck loads of material per day from the site out onto the quiet, residential, and narrow route 738, across a railroad crossing and up route 20 to an existing brick manufacturing plant in Somerset. The Virginia Department of Transportation has recommended extensive road work to accommodate this heavy industrial traffic.
See the links on the left of this page for more information about some of the issues raised by the proposed mining operation.
Contact Your Government!
"It would be too cruel an
irony...that the descendants of the same slaves who made bricks at
Barboursville and Burlington should have their property degraded and
their lives intruded upon by a commercial clay mine."
State Asks for Uranium Testing at General Shale Site