ATTACHMENT C

 

FACT SHEET ON CISMONT JUNKYARD VIOLATION

(Zoning Violation #2005-003 in Keswick)

 

Summary of Critical Issues

 

Clean up Schedule

The revised schedule for clean-up is included at the end of this document.  Representatives from Zoning and Fire/Rescue worked together to prioritize items for removal, seeking to first clear the property of items that might present health and safety risks to the owners and/or adjacent properties.  At present, all identified materials that are potentially hazardous have been removed.  Note that the schedule has been amended since the original schedule was issued.  Enough significant and cooperative progress had been made to warrant the extension of some deadlines without raising health, safety and/or environmental risks.  This is the County’s standard operating practice and what the courts expect to have occurred before judicial remedy is pursued.        

 

Monitoring the Clean up Efforts

A core team consisting of representatives from Zoning and Fire/Rescue remains in consultation with the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and the local Health Department (HD).  The County continues to make weekly visits to the property to monitor progress.  If progress continues to be timely and significant we will continue pursuing voluntary compliance.  Albemarle County and DEQ will evaluate the nature of the materials removed during clean-up to determine if additional action is necessary or if the clean-up is complete.      

 

Enforcement Actions

The zoning ordinance allows a civil process to enforce zoning violations, with cumulative fines of up to $5,000 for each violation under the same operative facts.  The County’s trash ordinance, which may also be enforced by Zoning, allows for criminal prosecution.  The violations cited by Fire/Rescue may also be pursued criminally.  Under certain circumstances, DEQ may take further compliance/enforcement actions against the property owners to complete the clean-up if not done properly.  However, it is the long-standing policy of both the County and DEQ to not pursue civil or criminal charges as long as significant progress is being made towards coming into compliance. 

 

Status of Testing/Involvement of the Department of Environmental Quality

DEQ, which is the state agency responsible for assessing and testing for potential environmental hazards, has made two separate inspections of the site since the fire in January 2005.  At this time DEQ has not observed any immediate hazards to public health or the environment on this property, or on adjacent properties arising from the conditions on this property.  DEQ is overseeing the environmental aspects of the clean-up as it progresses.  The County and DEQ continue to evaluate what, if any, site work or confirmational sampling should be done on the property.  This decision will be made further into the clean-up.  Please see the questions related to environmental hazards on page 3 for full details on testing associated with this site.

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions about Zoning Violation #2005-003 in Keswick

 

What is the property in question?

The property in question is Tax Map and Parcel 06500-00-00-02000 located in Keswick, Virginia.  It is zoned RA, Rural Areas District.  It encompasses 16.0 acres. 

 

Based on County records, what happened at this location?

On January 4, 2005, there was an outdoor fire on the property due to open burning.  At that time, the Albemarle County Fire Marshal’s Office discovered an open dump, including some hazardous waste.  A list of the materials found at that time is included at the end of this document.  The Zoning Division of the Community Development Department also investigated and found that the junkyard was not a permitted use in the Rural Areas zoning district and was therefore a zoning violation.  At a meeting at the County Office Building on February 8, 2005, both the Fire Marshal’s Office and Zoning hand-delivered Notices of Violation to the property owners.  Those notices ordered remediation of the violations.  At that time, a schedule for clean-up was also issued to the property owners.  The property owners are required to show that the items were disposed of properly, including receipts when necessary. 

 

Is the junkyard a non-conforming use? 

(A non-conforming use is a use that lawfully existed prior to adoption of an ordinance that made it illegal.  This is sometimes referred to as “grandfathering.”  Such use enjoys certain protections, and in most circumstances the use is allowed to continue in its then-existing condition.)  Former zoning inspectors and other county officials mistakenly thought that the junkyard on the property was a legal non-conforming junkyard.  In fact, junkyards were not permitted on this property under the original 1969 Zoning Ordinance.  As a result of the January 4, 2005 fire, the property was re-evaluated and after further research and consultation with the County Attorney’s Office, the Zoning Administrator determined that the junkyard was not a legal non-conforming use.  Aerial photographs taken soon after the 1969 zoning ordinance was adopted show that a junkyard did not exist on the property at that time.  Therefore, the junkyard is not a nonconforming use.  This determination was issued to the property owners in writing and it is final and unappealable. 

 

What citizen complaints has the County received regarding this property?

Between January 1976 and January 2005, no citizen complaints were received by the County regarding the junkyard on this property.  However, as noted above, until January 4, 2005, former zoning inspectors and other County officials mistakenly thought that the junkyard on the property was a permitted non-conforming use.              

 

Do the property owners have any other special zoning approvals?

The property owners do not have any special use permits or any other zoning approvals that would allow them to lawfully have any uses on their property other than the by-right uses allowed in the Rural Areas zoning district and those uses that are customarily accessory to such by-right primary uses.

 

What about the other buildings (e.g., sheds) on the property?

The building inspections office has no records of any building code violations at the property on parcel 06500-00-00-02000.

 

Are there any safety, health and/or environmental hazards as a result of this zoning violation?

The following agencies have been informed of the nature of the violation on this property:  Albemarle County Fire/Rescue, Albemarle County Community Development, Zoning Division, Albemarle County Office of the Virginia Health Department (HD), Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and Virginia Department of Emergency Management (VDEM), which acts as the state liaison to the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). 

 

DEQ inspected the property, along with representatives from Albemarle County, immediately following the January 4, 2005 fire and again in May 2005.  A detailed Notice of Violation for “Unpermitted Storage/Disposal of Waste” was sent to the property owners from DEQ in February 2005.  DEQ has also been notified about the fire that occurred in 1984 and is still collecting information about it.  The nature of any residue from the fire is not known at this time.  At this time DEQ has not observed any immediate hazards to public health or the environment on this property, or on adjacent properties as a result of the conditions on this property.  DEQ is overseeing the environmental aspects of the clean-up as it progresses.  Albemarle County and DEQ continue to evaluate what, if any, site work or confirmational sampling should be done on the property.  This decision will be made further into the clean-up.  A representative from Community Development’s Natural Resources team is also aware of the conditions on this property, and has served as an advisor in assessing any potential risks.  VDEM inspected the property in January 2005 and observed no imminent threats to human health.  Therefore, VDEM involvement was not necessary, nor was there a need to notify EPA.   

 

At the request of Fire/Rescue, an Environmental Health Specialist from the local HD joined other officials at a January 26, 2005 site visit.  During the visit, no immediate hazards to the groundwater were noted with the possible exception of the products of the fire.  Following that visit a trained representative of Fire/Rescue took water samples from three nearby private wells designated by the HD and had those analyzed for a wide variety of chemicals by a state laboratory.  The test results showed most contaminants to be below detectable levels.  All results were reviewed with a Virginia Department of Health Industrial Hygienist and none were above levels that may indicate concern for health.  The County has no evidence that the contaminants identified in the testing came from the property.  The HD is starting the process of gathering information in a systematic fashion about the recently reported health concerns of nearby residents, specifically cases of cancer, and will report back to those residents, DEQ and County officials.  If analysis of the information should so indicate, additional testing may be recommended to the County or DEQ and/or State Health Department assistance may be sought for a more detailed epidemiologic study. 

 

What is the schedule for clean-up?  How did the County decide upon a schedule? 

The revised schedule for clean-up is included at the end of this document.  Representatives from Zoning and Fire/Rescue worked together to prioritize items for removal, seeking to first clear the property of items that might present health and safety risks to the owners and/or adjacent properties.  The schedule has been amended since it was originally issued because the County recognizes that the property owners will have to dedicate a significant amount of time and resources to clean-up the property.  Enough significant and cooperative progress had been made to warrant the extension of some deadlines.  The materials identified that could create potential health, safety and/or environmental hazards have been removed.  It is possible that additional extensions, if necessary, may be given in the future, assuming that significant and timely progress continues.  This is the County’s standard operating practice and what the courts expect to have occurred before judicial remedy is pursued.  Shorter deadlines encourage continued progress and give the County the opportunity to monitor progress closely.        

 

What progress has been made?

The table at the end of this document indicates the items found on the property immediately following the January 4, 2005 fire, and which of those have been removed.  At present, all identified materials that are potentially hazardous have been removed. 

 

How will the County ensure that this property is cleaned up?

A core team consisting of representatives from Zoning and Fire/Rescue remains in consultation with DEQ and the HD.  The County continues to make weekly visits to the property to monitor progress.  If progress continues to be timely and significant we will continue pursuing voluntary compliance.  The County and DEQ will evaluate the nature of the materials removed during clean-up to determine if additional action is necessary or if the clean-up is complete.      

 

What happens if the property is not cleaned up?

The zoning ordinance allows a civil process to enforce zoning violations, with cumulative fines up to $5,000 for each violation under the same operative facts.  The County’s trash ordinance, which may also be enforced by Zoning, allows for criminal prosecution.  The violations cited by Fire/Rescue may also be pursued criminally.  Under certain circumstances, DEQ may take further compliance/enforcement against the property owners to complete the clean-up if not done properly.  However, it is the long-standing policy of both the County and DEQ to not pursue civil or criminal charges as long as significant progress is being made towards coming into compliance.  It is the County’s practice to not immediately pursue judicial enforcement as long as significant progress is being made by the owners to bring the property into compliance.  The County will encourage cooperative remediation to continue before turning to the judicial system.  Our goal remains voluntary compliance in remedying violations.   

 

How can concerned neighbors get answers to questions and keep updated on the clean-up progress?

We are trying to effectively and efficiently respond to citizen concerns despite the overwhelming number of questions we are receiving on this case.  We want to be able to provide accurate and consistent information and to do that we cannot respond on a daily basis to each and every question.  We ask that you direct all questions to Louise Wyatt at (434) 296-5832 (ext. 3243) or lwyatt@albemarle.org.  We further ask that these questions be put in writing.  That is to better assure we are directly answering the question asked and it allows us to have a record of questions and answers.  Questions received within a given week will get a reply by the following Friday, if possible.  The County also plans to provide monthly updates as appropriate.  If you provide your email or regular mail address, we will copy you with an updated question-and-answer and any additional updates.    

 

The following table lists the current status of items that were identified at the time of the January 2005 fire.  The items are listed in the same groupings that they were prioritized for clean-up.  Please note that “removed*” in the table below indicates that all obvious materials have been removed, but that it is possible that additional items will be uncovered as clean-up progresses.  This list is meant to present an accurate snapshot of the items found, but may not be exhaustive.  Again, note that it is possible that additional extensions, if necessary, may be given in the future, assuming that significant and timely progress continues.  The materials identified that could create potential health, safety and/or environmental hazards have been removed.  Remaining items do not pose an immediate threat.     

 

Items

Revised Deadline

Status

Tires

Past

Removed except for oversized tires*

Tanks

Past

Removed*

Paint

7/1/05

Deadline for few remaining cans

Chemicals

7/1/05

Deadline for few remaining cans

oil drums

Past

Removed*

propane cylinders

Past

Removed*

high pressure gas cylinders

Past

Removed*

asbestos shingles

Past

Removed*

air conditioning and refrigeration equipment

7/1/05

Not yet removed

household appliances

7/1/05

Not yet removed

inoperative vehicles

7/1/05

Not yet removed

non-asbestos shingles

7/1/05

Not yet removed

metal items (e.g., scrap metal, fencing, bicycle frames, etc.)

8/10/2005

Not yet removed

lawn mowers, engines, discarded building material, general household trash

9/15/2005

Not yet removed

    

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