VERONA — Superior Concrete withdrew their request for a special use permit to operate a concrete batching plant on property neighboring the Hershey plant in Stuarts Draft on Thursday.
At Thursday’s board of zoning appeals meeting, Roger Willets, agent for Superior Concrete, said withdrawing the application was the best thing to do under the circumstances.
“We have made a really hard, good-faith effort to deal with the concerns that Hershey has about the location and proximity to their operation,” said Willets. “We really just haven’t been able to resolve their concerns to their satisfaction.”
The Augusta County board of supervisors voted unanimously Nov. 26 to table a vote on an ordinance amendment that would allow the board of zoning appeals to consider that a building, structure or operation be set back less than 100 feet from all property lines. The current ordinance only allows the board of zoning appeals to determine if setbacks greater than 100 feet are necessary to protect neighboring properties.
On Nov. 25, Hershey sent a letter to the board of zoning appeals stating that the concrete batch plant would negatively impact Hershey’s Stuarts Draft location, which is the second largest candy manufacturing facility in the United States and the primary producer of peanut-related products for Hershey’s candies.
“Hershey adheres to the most rigorous food quality and safety standards in the world,” the letter continues. “The proposed concrete batch plant — and the dust and other external effects it will generate — is simply not compatible with Hershey’s approved use.”
Willets said Thursday that despite withdrawing the request, Superior Concrete was still interested in locating in Augusta County. Board of zoning appeals chairwoman Justine Tilghman agreed that there are better locations in the county for the company.
“I appreciate you withdrawing,” she said. “This was going to be a very difficult decision for us, and I think there are better locations. There’s no doubt we need a plant, and I hope [Superior Concrete] finds the right spot.”
Hershey said in a statement the company appreciated Superior Concrete’s willingness to withdraw the special use permit request.
“After several conversations with the applicant to share our concerns about building a cement batching plant adjacent to our Stuarts Draft facility, we are pleased that the applicant has decided to withdraw his special use permit for the good of the community,” the statement reads.
Willets said Superior Concrete recognizes Hershey’s commitment to the community.
“[Superior Concrete] needs to get here to do the volume they do and it is a challenge to find a location, but on the other hand we recognize Hershey’s commitment to the county,” he said. “What that meant from the day they came is they continue to make an impact positively, so I think it’s probably the best course of action.”