CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — If you drive around the bend at 5921 Newby’s Bridge Road on a Saturday morning, you’ll likely hear a voice on a megaphone that leads you to a group holding homemade signs stating, “No Dredge Dump.”
The rallies are held by residents who oppose a proposed industrial development nearby.
“No dump! Sign the petition,” yelled one of the leaders of the protest on the megaphone.
In July, the Chesterfield County Planning Commission held public hearings on the rezoning request to make way for an operation to create plant material from the soils that are excavated from lakes and ponds, resulting in dredging operations.
The plan was for Harbor Dredge & Dock to take soil that is excavated from offsite lakes and ponds to the property at Newby Bridge Road, which will then be used to create topsoil and plant material on site.
The property is currently a vacant, cleared lot with trees and vegetation surrounding the perimeter. Across Newbys Bridge Road and Hagood Lane and to the east of the property are developed single-family dwellings.
The summary of Zubey’s proposal said, “the applicant proposes to develop the site with contractor office and shop space, equipment, and material outdoor storage areas, wholesale greenhouses and nursery, a warehouse, and parking. The property is located within a mandatory connection to public water and wastewater for a nonresidential development area.”
Now, the proposals have sparked outrage among residents who don’t want to live near the proposed dredging site — and they’re petitioning and gathering signatures of disapproval to bring to the Chesterfield County Board of Supervisors on September 21.
Dan Nester, a property owner who shares 900-feet with the site, said he is frustrated in the county for jumping into this project with “no experience.” He said he doesn’t doubt the developer can make topsoil or and it’s not about the property in general, it’s about what the proposed dredging could bring to the community.
The biggest issues stated by those in opposition are potential safety concerns with school buses, toxins being released from dredged soils, the odors that could potentially emanate from the raw material as it is turned into the topsoil, and the potential for a decrease in property value for homes close to the perimeter.
“Heavy metals, mercury, arsenic, pesticides, microplastics — all of these things potentially being dumped out,” he said. “Dump trucks competing with school buses on a two-lane road decreased property value… there is not one positive they are giving us.”
Nester said the proposed dredging site has caused an uproar in the community and said they’re a small fraction of those who are against the operation.
“My question and the whole neighborhood’s question is if you are going to dump this material out, how are you going to control it? We oppose this heavy-industrial,” Nester said. “We are not the ones that moved in beside a pig farm and built a 5,000 square-foot house and then, later on, complained that it smells bad. We are the ones getting the pig farm dumped on us.”
Nester said he hopes to have thousands sign the petition to spark a change in the minds of Chesterfield’s Board of Supervisors.
8News reached out to Harbor Dredge & Dock for comment and have not heard back yet.