A resident who lives on Carver Road detailed community concerns at the September 26 Henry County Board of Supervisors meeting.
Van Drewery recalled that he and other community members attended a February board meeting to air their concerns and issues with Teal Jones Pine Products, a company located in the area.
“We presented those issues to the board, hoping that some resolution would come from some of those issues,” Drewery said. “We have been working with the administration, but we still have a lot of concerns that are not just associated with the lumber yard, but the Carver community in general.”
The primary concern is the safety of Carver Road as there’s a lot of traffic because of the logging and gravel trucks, school buses, work, and parents transporting their children to and from school.
The traffic is to the “extent that Carver Road is a traffic jam at certain times during the day,” Drewery said and added that the logging trucks take a lot of time entering and exiting the company.
“Sometimes, because of the way they enter the property, some motorists are even going past the trucks, crossing over the double yellow lines. That’s an awful safety hazard, and we need someone to take a look at this,” he said.
At a community meeting at the Carver Road Ruritan Building in April, Drewery said the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) indicated that it would do a type of traffic study.
Drewery wonders if VDOT completed that study and what criteria it used to determine whether a traffic signal is needed at the intersection of Carver Road and U.S. 58.
“We think that more traffic control is needed at the intersection,” he said.
Regarding VDOT, Drewery said another issue is the shoulders being unsafe for pedestrians to walk on.
“What has been VDOT’s schedule for mowing? I’ve only seen them one time there this year. We have people walk along the road, we have people in wheelchairs, and they cannot move because of the high weeds on the shoulders of the road,” he said.
Another question from residents is what efforts have the Virginia State Police taken to decrease speeding on Carver Road?
“It is obvious speeders are causing unsafe conditions on Carver Road,” Drewery said.
Also in April, Drewery said residents expressed concern about the zoning status of a piece of property Teal Jones owns that may be zoned residential but is used for other purposes.
“So, we would like to know the status of that,” he said.
Drewery also wants to know if there’s been any follow-up to what Teal Jones said it would do to improve and address the concerns raised by the community.
“We know that our supervisor (Debra Buchanan) and Mr. Powell (Deputy County Administrator JR Powell)” met with representatives from the company, Drewery said. “I think they committed to doing certain things to improve the appearance of the property. We’d like to know what the status of that is.
“Has the board and administration looked at other possible solutions that they could suggest to Teal Jones to improve the safety and health of residents living in close proximity to their business,” Drewery asked, noting those issues are again surfacing due to continued dust, mud, and tree bark on the road.
At the community meeting, Drewery said County Attorney George Lyle advised residents that they should contact the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).
Lyle “wrote a letter and DEQ contacted me, and they’ve been to Teal Jones on four or five different instances, and they cited them for fugitive dust. Yet the dust still exists,” Drewery said.
Overall, Drewery said he wants to know what the board and administration are doing to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the Carver community and ensure residents are not being put in jeopardy.
“You may ask us, ‘What have you done, or what has the community done,’” he said. “We’ve done a lot of things. You asked us to be patient, and we’ve been very patient.”
Drewery said the community has talked to the Henry County Sheriff’s Department, and he recently talked to the Teal Jones plant manager and the human resources manager on a Zoom call about possible improvements to the existing situation at the lumber yard.
“I told them that the bark was still in the road,” Drewery said, adding he was told “‘That’s a law enforcement issue.’” Additionally, Drewery said he was told “’it’s the law office’s responsibility to make sure that the logging trucks are not depositing bark on the road,’” and that law enforcement “’should be issuing them tickets.’”
Drewery said Carver Road residents are requesting law enforcement officers to do their job.
“Issue the tickets,” he said.