By: Michael Campbell | Twitter: @itsthesoup
Posted: January 9, 2019 | 12:30 p.m.
PRINCE GEORGE – As 2019 gets underway, so too will discussions between county officials and local leaders regarding plans to build a new garbage and recycling center in an underserved portion of the county after receiving additional information on the proposal right before the Christmas holiday.
During their December meeting, the Prince George County Board of Supervisors received a narrowed-down list of four possible locations for a county waste and recycling convenience center.
Last month’s report came roughly two months after officials made their initial presentation to county leaders during supervisors’ monthly workshop in October. At that time, county planning officials broke down the county’s current waste management structure and where the greatest need existed.
According to their presentation at the time, the county’s two convenience centers, one located along Union Branch Road and the other in Burrowsville, are serving a significant amount of county residents, with many locals being measured to be within a 15-minute drive of either center.
While some are within that measurement, others, mainly residents in District 2, like those living toward the southern end of Carson and those living close to the Sussex-Prince George border near Interstate 95 can face longer drives to dispose of their waste and recyclable goods.
Additionally, the county’s current waste and recycling centers have slight variances in operations. In terms of hours, the Burrowsville location is only open Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., while the Union Branch Road site is open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. or 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., daylight saving time depending.
Also, the Burrowsville location only accepts waste materials and does not have recycling facilities of any kind, where Union Branch, along with the county government complex, do accept various recyclable materials, such as plastics and cardboard.
While the October presentation was spent mostly providing an overview of considerations the county and local leaders should begin thinking about when it comes to building a new site, the December meeting saw the first candidates for a convenience center be revealed.
Using various criteria, such as if the property is county-owned and within District 2, has suitable acreage, in this case, at least one acre for the facility, and doesn’t require the purchase of neighboring property, among a myriad of others, a total of four sites were shown to supervisors.
The site measured to be within 15 minutes of the largest group of population, both county and non-county residents, was a plot of land along Middle Road. This piece of property, which sits a short distance from the Interstate 295 overpass is the same county-owned property that has been named as the top site by supervisors for a proposed new elementary school in the county.
In the latter stages of 2018, supervisors voted in favor of the site, only to see the school board narrowly reject supervisors’ proposal before proposing again to build the school at the current Walton Elementary School, leaving the project at a standstill at the start of the year.
According to planning staff, this proposal “does not impact future school use” and, if it were to be built there, it would see 111,183 residents and non-county residents within a 15-minute drive.
While the Middle Road site has the highest population reach within the metrics of the county’s data, it has the second lowest traffic count, coming in at 5,900 cars passing the site on an average day.
Planning officials said the Middle Road location has already been used as a drop site for biodegradable waste following hurricanes and the spacious nature of the Middle Road property, measuring in the dozens of acres, plays well in the county’s favor as the convenience center is only expected to need roughly 1-2 acres.
Two other sites being looked at have direct access to Courthouse Road, a main artery in the county with a location near Scott Park and the county water tower along Sawmill Road making the final list of candidates.
The Sawmill Road location has the second highest population reach of the four being considered at 99,222, with the site linking to Courthouse Road, which as an average daily traffic figure of 11,000 cars.
While this site is considered a “central location in the county,” the county would have to work around the water tower and the entrance is part of Sawmill Road, which is private property and is about 1,000 feet from Courthouse Road. In order to operate the site, permanent access would have to be gained.
A short drive from Sawmill Road is the Scott Park site, which does have a slightly lower population reach of 92,985 and identical traffic count figure. The mix of parkland, governmental, and residential is seen as a strength of the site. According to a county analysis, building a convenience center there would provide the opportunity to “integrate with [the] Scott Park Master Plan and parking,” along with matching up with existing government uses.
The Scott Park site does feature visual screening, which neither the Middle Road or Sawmill Road properties offer. Additionally, the site features access from the county parking lot on the complex along with a cut-through road, which is county controlled and provides “good proximity to General Services.”
The final site among those presented was Burrowsville Library along James River Drive.
When compared to the other three sites, it had the lowest population reach at 2,888 and lowest average daily traffic at 3,000 cars per day. For planning officials, the site does have the strength of being the current site of Saturday only garbage disposal but would require some evaluation of the convenience center’s compatibility with the neighboring community center and library, cell tower, and playground.
With sites now on the table, the next step for supervisors is to determine what facilities should be on the site, such as open-top dumpsters, compactors, or other waste management equipment. The county has been using other localities like Dinwiddie and James City County as a guide for the process.
In addition, considerations for operation, be it county-operated or contracted to a waste management company, such as Container First Services, who operates the facility along Union Branch Road, will need to be hashed out.
County officials were also advised, should the four options presented not meet their needs, alternate sites should focus on areas of greatest need, where there is a high density of residents, is connected to corridors residents use often, features 1 to 2 acres of land for flexibility of layout, and narrow their search to options adjacent to county-owned land.
No timetable for the project to return to the board has been revealed and, in conversations with county officials, the matter is likely not to be part of the proposed budget for the coming fiscal year.