Alton

Torris Babbs with Babbs Engineering Consultants explains the benefits of having an eco-friendly mixed use development in the Alton community during a Halifax County Board of Supervisors meeting Monday evening.

Halifax County Board of Supervisors have decided to hold off on making a decision on an eco-friendly planned use development request for the Alton area until at least July.

They made that decision when they met Monday evening after ED-6 supervisor Stanley Brandon told the board that there were too many questions and concerns surrounding the application at this time, and because of that he made a motion to table the request until at least July.

In the meantime, he said, county administrator Scott Simpson, Brandon, planning and zoning administrator Detrick Easley and Torris Babbs with Babbs Engineering Consultants who put in the planned use development request could meet to discuss the project further.

“We need to meet and get a better understanding,” said Brandon.

In reviewing this project, he said, “it’s not such a bad idea,” but “there’s a lot of concerns.”

He said he’s had a lot of calls from people who have shared “legitimate concerns.”

The proposed project would be connected to 1064 Henry Brandon Road in Alton, and the proposed site is currently listed as owned by Art in Life Foundation and BEC, LLC.

The total acreage of the site would be 150.15 acres including 40.07 of commercial acres and 110.08 of residential acres.

Phase one of the proposed project includes single-family housing, investor lots and commercial space.

Phase two of the proposed project includes a commercial conference facility, a grocery store, a hotel, a multi-family apartment and investor lots.

One of those neighbors who have concerns, Jonathan Hall, offered his own thoughts on the matter during a public hearing prior to the supervisor’s decision.

He explained to supervisors that part of the roadway is gravel and not designed for heavy traffic and large vehicles.

“Who’s responsible for maintaining?” Hall asked before also saying that there’s no room to turn around.

Hall was the only person who spoke in opposition of the request at the meeting, but Easley did point out that he had received letters and emails in opposition that were passed on to the board.

He also said he and the Halifax County Planning Commission had their own concerns such as with infrastructure and water and sewer.

Babbs, along with Dave Anderson, an engineer and land planner with Timmons Group, also spoke during the public hearing on the request.

Babbs called the proposed project a “nice getaway space” that could provide revenue to the county and open up potential for more developments to come to Halifax County. His engineering firm became affiliated with The Art in Life Foundation in 2014.

Anderson, who is a member of the Rural Caucus of Virginia, said he understands the need for paying attention to what moves into a rural area. He said he understands the need to take care of the land and the need to “put the right things in the right places.”

In his presentation, he also noted that many companies use eco-friendly terms as a marketing ploy, but he called Babbs and this project the “real deal.”

Part of his green projects includes having a grocery store that sells fruits and vegetables grown on site. He also said they plan to participate in gasification, which is a process that converts biomass or fossil fuel-based materials into gases, by using people’s food waste.

Brandon also told Babbs that these green-friendly terms may be unknown to the public.

“I’m not certain everyone understands… and how do you go about it? And, how does it interact with the local government,” Brandon asked of the proclaimed “self-sustainable” community.

ED-4 supervisor Ronnie Duffey commented at Monday’s meeting saying the project “could be valuable,” but he said if the project does move forward that those in charge of it need to consult with the neighbors.

“Work with them. Listen to their needs, as well,” said Duffey.

Brandon made a motion to table the matter until at least July, which was seconded by ED-2 supervisor Jeff Francisco. The motion passed 7 to 1 with ED-5 supervisor Dean Throckmorton voting no.

Ashley Hodge is the editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com

Ashley Hodge is the editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com