Department of Engineering & Public Works



TO:                  Amelia McCulley, Director of Building Code and Zoning Services

Wayne Cilimberg, Director of Planning and Comprehensive Development


FROM:           Mark B. Graham, Director of Engineering and Public Works   


DATE:             19 June 2002


RE:                  Fill and Waste Zoning Text Amendment

                        Issues raised at public hearing


I'm offering some research into the concerns raised at the Board's public hearing on the subject. Hopefully,  it helps.


I.                    Asphalt pavement


A.      Corps of Engineers restrictions-

The Piedmont Environmental Council noted that the Corps of Engineers had determined asphalt pavement was unacceptable for use.   This determination appears to be associated with the general conditions for wetland permitting, as related to the use of recycled asphalt pavement for streambank stabilization.   While I haven't found the person responsible for adding this requirement to the general conditions, it appears to have been related to concerns with long term stability and aesthetics more than any concern with leaching.  It also appears the Corps of Engineers continues to use asphalt pavement with water projects in western states.  All of that said, we have never proposed to allow asphalt pavement to be used for streambank stabilization and fill in the floodplain is clearly prohibited under the zoning ordinance.  Thus, this restriction on the use of asphalt pavement by the Corps of Engineers doesn't appear to be related to what has been proposed under  this amendment.  


B.     Recycling -

There continues to be a large interest in the recycling of asphalt pavement and concrete.   While we want to encourage the recycling of this material, the fact remains nobody in the private sector has elected to offer this service.  It appears the economics are such that the cost of material preparation remains more expensive than use of raw materials. At the same time, this material can be legally used as fill in the surrounding communities and the tranportation costs are small enough that this option remains cost effective.  Short of market forces determining it can be profitable to recycle asphalt pavement, it appears a successful recycling program for asphalt pavement will require either a mandate to recycle the material or a subsidy to make the recycling operation profitable.   If a mandate is pursued, there must be a facility to process the material.  As the private sector hasn't entered this market, the most plausible alternative appears to be the Rivanna Solid Waste Authority (RSWA) providing this service at its Ivy facility.   I've requested RSWA to develop a cost estimate, both capital investment and operational, for such a service.   While I don't expect that cost estimate for several months, it is anticipated the disposal fee required to offset the cost of this service would be a significant increase in costs for contractors and would likely result in contractors continuing to dispose of this material with their current methods.    Thus, my initial reaction is this service would require a significant subsidy from Albemarle County to reduce the tip fee to a level that contractors would not experience a cost increase.     


2.       Tracking of fill sites -

All three development departments track permits in databases.   Engineering would include any permits under the proposed ordinance amendment in our erosion control database and development review database.  The new permit automation software currently being implemented will offer the additional benefit of linking all of this information into one source and providing a link to the County's geographic information system (GIS).  That GIS link will allow us to provide a map link showing not only what has occurred on this site, but what has occurred on the adjoining properties.


3.       Compaction -

Adequate compaction is not a new concern created by the proposed amendment, but an ongoing issue for us.  Under the current ordinances and regulations, there are fill sites where large boulders and rock are used in the same manner as concrete and asphalt pavement might be used.   Most of these sites are not used for building and other structures, but some are.   With those sites, and with future sites, we rely on our tracking of sites to flag an application for a building permit or other use where the long-term stability of the property is a concern.   This concern extends beyond boulders, concrete, or asphalt pavement, and includes any fill site. Dirt can require years to compact in situ if it is not compacted as the material is placed.  As the County doesn't have enough inspectors so we are on the property at all times during a fill operation, we require applicants to provide a geotechnical report certified by a professional engineer for all structures on fill.   That report demonstrates the site fill is adequate for the proposed structures regardless of whether it would include rocks, concrete or asphalt pavement.  


4.       Notification of future property owners

At present, the County regularly provides information to potential property owners regarding properties.   We routinely use our tracking database, files, and institutional knowledge to share our knowledge with prospective buyers.  Beyond this service, I fear we could be providing potential property owners a disservice by creating the expectation that the County is assuring them the property has no concerns, while that is simply not possible.  For example, there is no way we could know if a farmer had buried stumps on his property  ten years ago or that an illegal fill had occurred two years ago, but either of those activities could adversely impact the property owner.  The only way that can be discovered is if the potential property owner diligently investigates the property, with the County as only one part of that investigation.


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