Avon demo debris dumped at demolisher's

news-parham-truck0902jpgA Parham Construction dump truck arrives at owner Ronnie Parham's residence on Route 20 South January 7 with a load of debris from the Avon Street sawmill demo.

At least since Tuesday, January 5, trucks from Parham Construction, the company contracted to demolish the former Charlottesville Lumber/Better Living Mill Shop building at 310 Avon Street, were discovered hauling debris from the site to company owner Ronnie Parham’s 76-acre home in the 2500-block of Scottsville Road and dumping it on a hillside in the woods. The morning of January 7, for instance, truckloads were still arriving at Parham’s property just 10 to 15 minutes apart and passing each other as they cruised along Route 20 South.

Wait a minute. Isn't that illegal?

According to Parham, however, he was just hauling cinder block, bricks, and dirt to his property to use as cover on his driveway, something that’s perfectly legal under County zoning code. He says they were also making room at the Avon site to build a detention pond to collect runoff as they complete the demo, which he says should take 75 to 90 days.

According to property manager Caroline Satira, the contract with Parham Construction handed all the salvage to them and provides that the company will “use its best efforts to recycle as much of the construction debris as possible.”

Parham says that copper is going to Cycle Systems, doors will be reused, plumbing fixtures are being donated to places like Habitat for Humanity, and some of the better timber is going to a local cabinet maker, whose name Parham declined to reveal. Parham also said that wood would be ground into mulch and concrete ground into fill on the Avon Street site.

“We try to recycle everything we possibly can,” says Parham. “I hate to have to take it to a landfill.”

news-parham-debris-closeup0902Concrete and dirt?

However, photos taken by the Hook January 7 appear to show something other than concrete and dirt arriving at Parham’s property.  But Parham insists that’s all he's taking.

“There’s very little that will not come out of that building for some kind of use,” he says.

County spokesperson Lee Catlin says that what Parham says he’s doing is allowed, but added that anyone who might have reason to believe that something other than concrete blocks and dirt were being disposed needs to notify county zoning inspectors before anything is investigated.

Last year, Catlin reminds a reporter, developer Charles Hurt got in some hot water when he used rubble from the parking garage that was demolished to make way for the Emily Couric Clinical Cancer Center as fill for a development on Garth Road. On a routine inspection, County inspectors found metal rebar embedded in the concrete, which can contaminate water supplies, and they issued a stop work order. According to a Daily Progress story, Hurt claimed he didn’t know it was against code to bury rebar. The developer had to remove all the rebar from the ground, a process that took weeks and cost $50,000, Hurt told the DP.

Nearby property owner Skip Willis, whose circa-1885 Beck-Cohen building is a historically protected property, wonders why the circa-1890 building next door was unprotected, and why much of the old post and beam construction had to go to waste. He also questions whether or not the building was truly unsafe, one of the main reasons the owners gave for tearing it down, as the Mill Shop was operating in the building just three months ago.

Asked why he thought the building was so hastily demolished, especially because there are no immediate plans to develop the property, Willis said they probably wanted to "get it down as quickly as possible" before anyone tried to have it historically protected, which can be both a blessing and a curse for property owners. For instance, when Willis's building was designated,  it put an extra burden on potential buyers of the property, making it more difficult to sell, but he says he's perfectly happy with the designation now.

In particular, Willis wonders why the Charlottesville Lumber/Better Living Mill Shop building wasn't added to the list of 100 or so Individually Protected Properties the City has designated.

As previously reported, the old Charlottesville Lumber/Better Living Mill Shop building fell just outside the boundries of the Downtown Architectural Design Control district, but as Willis points out, it was still eligible for individual protection.

In a 2008 effort, city preservation planner Mary Joy Scala says that hundreds of old buildings were considered for protection, but only eight were designated; the Mill Shop building did not make the list.

"I don't recall that Charlottesville Lumber was recommended by any of the experts we called on," says Scala. " It certainly would have been considered a contributing building in a district; I don't know if it was significant enough to be individually designated."

Scala also mentions that there was an effort in 2008 to protect all 100-plus year old buildings from demolition, but that that type of blanket designation is not enabled in Virginia.

–-updated 1/12/10 2:10pm

news-parhamdemo-road0902Trucks arriving at Parham's property traveled down this long dirt road to a dump site on the hillside.


This is all the fault of the county government. The law is positioned to allow Mr. Parham to do what he has done. It is unbelievable Albemarle allows Charlottesville's or anyone's questionable material to be trucked into and dumped in the county's rural area. Other smart localities in Virginia ban the practice. The Hook did a piece some years back (burial of asphalt), Albemarle County. Asphalt chunks, often containing questionable additives, are are allowed as fill material in Albemarle. This is an unfortunate situation that will come back to haunt future generations.

If whatever he dumps does not contaminate the water supply then get off his back. The rebar in the concrete on hurts deal was a joke and would never have hurt anything.

If you bury a glass bottle a plastic bottle and even a tire in the ground and come back in 1000 years they are still there. what harm have they done????

People who try and restrict all this to make thmeselves feel better about about being a greenie just make it worse and here is why:


Lead was a common ingredient in paint until the 70's and old buildings often have asbestos and other toxic stuff in them. I don't want any of that going into my drinking water and I'm glad someone is keeping an eye on what's being dumped.

I still would know why The Hook is not printed on recycled paper? You know who is dumping ink filled paper in the landfills? The Hook everytime somebody throws away a paper. Just think of all that waste thousands of papers come out and most end up in the trash. I think printing on recycled paper would be the least you could do don't you owe the environment something? Or is it Mr. Parham who has a business with green practices? Sounds like his construction business is greener than your paper printing press.

Oh boy... Get a life. You guys have a vendetta on Ronnie Parham too? Report some real local news for a change.

A guy tries to do the right thing and he gets slammed. If all of this stuff was going to the dump you would be saying ohh what a waste. Can't win for losing. If the hook could do some real journalism it would go a long way.

Were these photos taken on Parhams property? With permission?

vendetta? that's hilarious!

i'm suprised they didnt point out that the load was uncovered while traveling down the road..., but then we wouldnt be able to see the wood and metal scrap then either...

Asbestos in the ground does not get into the grsoudwater it is only bad if it is airborne.

The same holds pretty much true for lead. The amount of lead on an old board buried in a landfill would never affect the water table.

You beat me to it Wigwam.

yeah. i would like to see a permission form for the hook to take a pic of hose trucks. on his property. i take photos for a living and i can tell these pics wernt taken with any kind of high quality camera. oh. and see the second pic? the tree on the foreground of the photo? it has a sign on the tree: POSTED:NO TRESPASSING. so now Mr.Mcnair, i have a question, is your job description "stalker", or "fake detective"? i'd like to know why you were following them in the first place,because technically, that is stalking you know?

Investigating is what reporters do, and thank goodness someone is looking into this, and if you want to call it stalking then BRAVO Mr. McNair--keep it up !

Mr. Smith, any county resident can make a call to the zoning department and request an inspection. I am not an Albemarle County resident, or I would make the call tomorrow. I hope some civic minded County resident will do just that.

Investigating? You call the picture of a dump truck investivative? This article asks the question is he dumping anything illegal on his property? Although the only conclusion it comes to is NO. County Spokesperson says parham is doing exactly what he is allowed. Call for an inspection based on this crappy photo from what is a baseless crappy article.

The more you write @really , the more convinced I am that something illegal is going on here --your protestations of innocence are not convincing.

Step up and call? Based on what? A crappy photo that the hook can't even enlarge? Or did they already enlarge the photo and see that there was nothing to see? Like I said two taps on the iphone and the hook can't even do this? Maybe you should mind your countys business and let us mind ours?

Let's have an on-site visit by the County zoning inspector and determine that. I am still asking that a county resident make that call today and then we'll have an even more accurate assessment than a picture can provide. Will an Albemarle county resident please step forward and call today.

Ever watch a city crew fill in an excavation. I've watched them bury plastic trash in their holes on several occasions.

And the pipe the City crew is installing or repairing is often plastic, too. Horrors!

If this isn't an illegal dump what is ?

This is clean fill such as dirt rocks and concrete. Illegal dumping is household refuse medical waste construction debris. Sounds like Mr. Parham is on top of his game an handlin bidness. Good thing the detectives down at the hook are monitoring his progress. Private eyes are watchin you, they study your every move.

So how come the Hook does not get printed on recycled paper? Don't you have enough advertising bucks? Mr. Parham is re using and re cycling which re duces landfill debris. The part about Hurt burying rebar is in bad taste. Is Parham guilty by association or did you just throw that in for fun?

This "newspaper" is a joke! There is never anything intresting in it, I glance over it just so if one day they do have a good story I can pat them on the head and say good boy.

"However, photos taken by the Hook today appear to show something other than concrete and dirt arriving in trucks at Parham’s property."

Can anyone else (besides the photographer/reporter) see "what looks like wood scrap and metal" in the pic of that truck?

Nope really? can't see jack in the back of that truck. But I'm sure that their is some wood scrap and metal in that fill given the scope of demo and volume of material they separtate the best they can but sure a few pieces here and there. Not everyoone is as perfect as the hook, but we do try. Sounds more like baseless allegations to me you could have at least photoshoped some hunks of metal and syringes and crap in there. Or at the very least enlarge the photo and put your money where your mouth is. Hell I can do that with my iphone in two taps.

Where's the anonymous call to the DEQ, like the ones that badgered Van der Linde for 2 years. Remember anyone can call no name needed.

Doesn't Parham have a history of doing things that are questionable? Didn't he demolish a historic structure on Main Street? Why hasn't the County gone out an done an inspection? Wouldn't that put the whole issue to rest?

proof, FYI, no trespassing signs are usually something that tells you that you can't go past them. They rarely have anything to say about whether you can stand in front of them or not.

Also, it is no big trick to find out what the actual definition of stalking is in Virginia. You do have the internet at your finger tips after all. The capacity to use it, well...

Mr. McNair's activities don't seen to meet the test to be called stalking.

from the Code of Virginia:

§ 18.2-60.3. Stalking; penalty.

A. Any person, except a law-enforcement officer, as defined in § 9.1-101, and acting in the performance of his official duties, and a registered private investigator, as defined in § 9.1-138, who is regulated in accordance with § 9.1-139 and acting in the course of his legitimate business, who on more than one occasion engages in conduct directed at another person with the intent to place, or when he knows or reasonably should know that the conduct places that other person in reasonable fear of death, criminal sexual assault, or bodily injury to that other person or to that other person's family or household member is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.