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Asphalt company won't pursue appeal over mixing plant against Pr. William County

By Jennifer Buske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 23, 2010; PW19

Finley Asphalt and Sealing will not pursue the appeal it filed last month against the Prince William County supervisors' decision in July that prevented the company from building an asphalt-mixing plant in the western end of the county.

The appeal, filed Aug. 20 in Prince William County Circuit Court, said the supervisors' denial of Finley's special-use permit application was "arbitrary and capricious" and not fairly debatable. The appeal requested that the court declare the board's decision "illegal, void and of no effect."

Finley filed an application almost two years ago to build an asphalt-mixing facility on Hornbaker Road near several Linton Hall area neighborhoods and the county's Innovation @ Prince William Technology Park. The plan, approved by county staff and the Planning Commission, was unanimously denied by the board after it heard from more than 100 speakers, almost half of whom supported the plant.

Gifford Hampshire, an attorney for Finley, said the company decided not to pursue the appeal because of the cost and time it would take to litigate against the county. Hampshire said company officials maintained that there was "no factual basis" for the county's decision and that the concerns raised about health and home values were addressed when Finley altered its plan to make the plant "less intense" than what is allowed on the site.

Hampshire said Finley officials were also concerned about the board's "double role" as a voting body and stakeholder with the technology park. Finley says that the property owners' concern about the "supposed stigma" of an asphalt-mixing facility is what drove the county's decision rather than "any objective concern about land-use impacts," Hampshire said.

County Supervisor W.S. Covington III (R-Brentsville) is on the board of the park's owners association, and Prince William has always "openly declared" its ownership in the park, county attorney Angela Horan said.

"There is no conflict in the county furthering the public good through its ownership in Innovation and in furthering the public good in making land use decisions that, among other effects, have the effect of limiting negative land use consequences that would reduce the potential of Innovation to continue to provide public benefits," Horan said.

Prince William officials said Finley had not told the county that it will not pursue the appeal. Finley's attorney must get court approval to withdraw the appeal, county officials said.

Finley will sell the land, which remains zoned for heavy industrial use, Hampshire said.

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