ONARCHITECTURE- Knock on wood: Proposed recycling facility riles Keswick

"We as a community are surprised that the County would even entertain such a special use application," says Fox Hunt Drive resident Colt Peyton, talking about a proposed wood recycling facility off 250 East.

It looks like 250 East could become "recycling central." Just recently, the Hook reported on Peter van der Linde's plans to build an $11 million recycling machine out near Zion Crossroads ["Single-streamin': Why not try private sector recycling machine?" July 17], which should be operational in 60 to 90 days. 

Now we've found out that Ken Vess, owner of Vess Excavation Ltd., recently applied to the County for a special use permit, under the name Central Virginia Recycling, to build a wood recycling plant on a 100-acre piece of land west of van der Linde's project, just East of Glenmore Country Club and Keswick Hall, near the intersection of 250 East and Union Mills/Black Cat Road. The plant would receive wood waste from construction, shipping, and excavation and process it into topsoil, mulch, and wood bio-fuel. There would also be a retail store on the site to sell the recycled products.

However, Vess's proposed "green" project seems to have made some well-heeled Keswick residents see red, so much so that several of them contacted the Hook before the project had even been scheduled for a Planning Commission review. 

 "We as a community are surprised that the County would even entertain such a special use application," says Fox Hunt Drive resident Colt Peyton, who says he worries about the amount of water the plant will use, the noise, truck traffic, and dust that will be created, and the danger of mulch pile fires. 

Keswick Farms resident Alan Higgins says they've already begun handing out fliers about the project in his neighborhood, and plan to post banners and signs along Route 250 with "Don't Industrialize Keswick" themes. 

Eric Wagner, also a Keswick Farms resident, can't understand why the County would even consider approving such a plant in that location.

"Keswick Hall just went to great lengths to have their golf course certified by the Audubon Society," he said, "which is an incredible contrast with people who want to build the mulch processing plant."

Like Peyton, Wagner worries about the noise and the risk of fire, and how communities like his, as well as Glenmore and Keswick Hall, will be affected by what they see as a large industrial operation. 

Peyton, Wagner, and Higgins also fear they may be powerless to stop the construction of the facility, as it appears to fall under the "forestal" uses allowed in the rural zoning designation.

Oddly enough, none of the residents seems to be worried about the smell. In 2004, a Ventura County, California, community that had been complaining for years about the stench coming from a nearby wood recycling plant, finally convinced a judge to order the company to move the facility. And just recently, a wood recycling facility in Manchester, England, caught fire, sending flames 60 feet in the air and burning steadily for a week before firefighters could put it out. 

The Hook tried to call Vess, but our calls were not immediately returned. County planning director Wayne Cilimberg said he couldn't comment, as the project had not been reviewed by County staff, and County spokesperson Lee Catlin, who was not aware of the project, promised to look into it.  

According to a 2004 study conducted by the USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, "Nearly 63 million metric tons of solid wood waste was generated in the manufacture, use, and disposal of solid wood products in the United States."

Fortunately, the USDA says that the number of wood recycling facilities like the one Vess wants to build has increased tenfold in the last decade or so, with the EPA estimating in 2004 a total of more than 500 such facilities across the country. The market for waste wood, the study says, is dominated by the production of mulch, shredded wood, and bio-fuel, but it can also be used to create particleboard.

In addition, the study pointed out that in 1999, an estimated 299 million wooden shipping pallets were recycled into new pallets or related products, or were ground for fuel or mulch. Finally, the study said that the practice of "reusing solid lumber for structural uses and remanufacture" was also growing. 

Meanwhile, a showdown may be on the horizon as Vess moves forward with his project, pitting the landed gentry of Keswick against another privately funded solution to our recycling woes.



This is no place for such a facility. Van der linde has no right to ruin the quality of life for Glenmore and Keswick residents. Where is the respect? The facilities stink and I mean for real! Think of added truck traffic on 250 E. Call on Keswick Hall's Orient Express owners. They'll quickly put an end to this proposal. Didn't the county allow the operation of another Keswick dump for too long? Why build a new dump in Keswick? Keswick people are sick of the county's steering objectionable development into the historic neighborhood.

Albemarle zoning laws are very weak. It is time to seek changes. In fact, this is already a set-up.

Moores creek was forced to close due to the smell, and most of those residents moved there after the facility was built. Doesn't make much sense to build an equally disruptive plant in this area. The fire, noise and traffic concerns should be icing on the cake making this a no brainer.

We really need to organize to fight this. I've seen a couple of signs along Union Mills Rd. Who got them and how can we get more?

Its about time Charlottesville and Albemarle accept responsibility for their own waste. This is a perfect location. Why should our waste be sent to other areas?

Maybe we should start accepting waste from Richmond?

Burning thousands of gallons of fuel per day to truck our trash to other areas is not acceptable.

Joc, you're a NIMBY. Matt, you're a NIMBY. Mr. Koepsell, you're a NIMBY.

In YOUR backyard is the perfect place for YOUR waste.


Is this a Van der Linde project in disguise? The recycling center in Fluvanna was initiated by Southern Development, we learned later on it was actually Van der Linde behind it.

Anyway, the funny thing is, everyone complaining probably considers themeselve recycling supporters, just NOT IN MY BACKYARD! lol!!!

All the complainers saying "not here!" but nobody suggesting a better place.


It is Charlottesville waste after all. Look at the Ivy transfer station, it is so inefficient that large roll-off trucks are sent to Zion Crossroads and blow litter in Fluvanna. How fair is that? If something happened to the Allied Waste transfer station at Zion Crossroads, Charlottesville would be like Naples. Garbage everywhere.

I am a greenie, but this is INSANE. You wanta to see property values decline??? How about a much lower tax base, Fluvanna AND Albemarle? Put this thing in Columbia or somewhere else where population is still sparse! This does not belong in the middle of upscale semi-rural areas like this!

OK, I will suggest a better place for wood recycling. How about a lumber yard already in place? I'm sure they already produce waste wood that needs to be/should be brought to recycling.

We have a lot to be concerned about here because we are on well water, both larger and smaller homes. We are a densely populated rural area and our water tables are already stressed.

Hey Vicki, Columbia is not in Albemarle County.

Albemarle has a wonderful commercial resource, the Interstate highway.

Albemarle has allowed residential development right up against highways and railroads, basically ruining that man-made resource. Now WE have a solid waste problem. It's not Columbia's problem. No residential development should even be in Keswick, that should be a commercial area.

Traffic is the Major Concern,Dump Trucks, Danger, Strain on Roads, VDOT does not have funds to upkeep the repairs on Albemarle Roads now. Higher Taxes will be the solution, which will come from all tax payers pockets. How can Dave C say that Keswick should be a commercial area. Residential Development is a part of every commercial area. Zion Cross Roads/New Gated Community.

Agreed that the problem is with the zoning. Albemarle Co has a long history of zoning blunders, intentional and otherwise. Now there are lots of messes to clean up. You're going to have to demand that they concentrate on this.

While I truly understand the position the Keswick folks are in, it's equally unfair to place the facility next to poor folks, which is what has always been done in the past. However, it shouldn't be near ANY inhabited area, rich or poor. It needs to go where there can be a densely wooded buffer zone around it.

The poster talking about Moore's Creek is somewhat on target, however he fails to point out that the facility was protested from the very beginning. It was never about new folks moving in and complaining-- the complaining started in the 1950s and has kept up to this day. Moore's Creek has not been shut down, only the composting yard. The plant itself is STILL generating foul sewage odors in a densely populated area. The only reason it was allowed to be built in the first place was because the area was blue collar, and there were big promises from the sewer people that would make sure it wouldn't smell (and if it did, they'd fix it immediately).

The lesson here for Keswick? These people will tell you and the BOS anything to get this thing built. You'll hear lots and lots of promises, but remember one thing: once it's built, you're screwed. All your rights go out the window.

Stop yapping about your pricey neighborhood full of McMansions and Beemers and say to yourselves: if this was being built near poor people, 1) would I even care? and 2) what would my argument against it be if I did? Do your research and look into the health risks.

Then, if you succeed in stopping this, do everyone a favor. The next time something like this is about to be built next to a poor neighborhood, perhaps the people of Keswick can come out of their gated communities and help those folks. Pay it forward.

First of all, I'm a little disgusted by all of the comments here about 'Keswick people' not wanting it in there pricey neighborhoods. So, here I am, Im like 1/4 of a mile from Keswick Estates in your basic 3 bedroom **Albemarle County** rancher. I don't want this because of the fact there are not many roads (616 & 250) to get around this area and we already have an issue with cars not being courteous to the school bus that has to make this trek.

I want a sign too.....

The BOS is not going to willingly advocate to stop this thing. Albemarle board members don't live near this property, so they don't care as Keswick is trashed. You can darn well know they would be "up in arms" if the facility was proposed for the west end, say Ivy, Crozet, or Earlysville. The board has turned a head as Pantops and 250 East is junked. Keswick people should begin a strong protest and fast.

To the posters claiming that the Keswick folks are merely NIMBYs, please call van der Linde ASAP and give him your addresses so he can consider the suitability of your neighborhoods for the facility. If this project is so ideal for a residential area, then step up to the plate.

Hey Nerfworlders,

The real world is dirty and smelly. Recycling begins with waste and scrap. Private enterprise is infinitely better than government at solving problems. Grow up and deal with the reality that Mr. Van der Linde has the right answer for a severe problem in today's world. Lawn care products in these "upscale neighborhoods" do more harm than this facility ever will.

Why is everybody thinking this is a Van der linde enterprise? He is not involved in any way. Go another route. Who is mentioned in the Hook?

Sorry Marion, you're right! It's Ken Vess.

Amazed-- that's a specious argument. Just because short-sighted people put bad chemicals on their lawns doesn't mean that a facility should be built that might harm the health of everyone in close proximity. We need to get strict laws passed that regulate agricultural chemicals. That's a separate issue from this one.

Ken Vess or whomever has no right to ruin quality of life for the surrounding rural neighborhoods or upscale busineses such as Keswick Hall. The 250 corridor in this area should be considered historical with all of the older Jeffersonian era farms. Isn't this Three Chopt road? Enough is enough.

On Sept. 18th Issue, a Rebuttal from Vess was issued. The Hook did not have it on their Site/so I am hoping someone will respond here. My understanding is the County has approved Special Use Permit as a Sawmill. Did anyone ever comment on mulch fire at Ashcroft. Ground by Central Va. Recycling.

Ken Vess is no longer involved in this process, nor is he employed by Central Va Recycling.

We received as notice from Albemarle County about a planning commission meeting scheduled for Tuesday, February 17 at 6pm regarding this proposed recycling center...