HANOVER COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The Hanover County Branch of the NAACP and other residents are fighting back after a permit was approved by the Department of Environmental Quality, or DEQ, to build a Wegman’s Distribution Center the size of the Pentagon in the Brown Grove community.
“Here we are again today repeating the same mistakes. Destroying a Black community,” said Hanover NAACP Branch President Patricia Hunter-Jordan, referring to Richmond’s Union Hill and Jackson Ward neighborhoods.
The lawsuit is suing the DEQ, its Director David Paylor and the State Water Control Board, which approved a permit to allow the center to be built on the 220-acre site along Ashcake Road and Sliding Hill Road.
Wegmans and Air Park Associates, which owns the property of the proposed site, are also named as interested parties in the suit.
Brian Buniva is the attorney representing Hanover NAACP, the group, “Protect Hanover” and 20 other community members in the appeal.
“I firmly believe that they committed numerous errors of law by not considering environmental justice issues appropriately and also by not considering real alternatives to the project at this location,” said Buniva.
He said environmental concerns like the wetlands located on the proposed site, and polution and traffic impacts of the facility were not properly considered.
Buniva said Wegmans has revised its assessment of the project’s environmental impact and alternatives costs multiple times. He said the state believes it is not their job to verify the information provided by the applicant, which is something the lawsuit also focuses on.
“I think that’s dead wrong,” Buniva said.
Deacon Kenny Spurlock with Brown Grove Baptist Church across from the site described how the center would impact the community. “Some 700 employees on a 24-hour, seven day-a-week going in and out,” he said.
The NAACP said many believe their ancestors are buried in the wooded area where the distribution center would sit. However, Wegmans has said they did not identify any graves during an archaeological study of the site.
Spurlock and others believe the historically Black community is being targeted. “Historically also, it has been abused, misused and looked over time and time and time again,” said Spurlock.
The community members made it clear they are not against Wegmans. “We do not oppose Wegmans. We are opposing the location of the facility in the midst of this community,” Hunter-Jordan said.