‘Project Eagle’ variance delayed moments before public hearing

Published 8:10 am Friday, February 16, 2018

A public hearing on a variance needed for a $100 million, 275-job industrial project has been put off a month.

The local Board of Adjustments was planning to consider an application Thursday morning to allow a 150-foot-tall structure that would be needed if the industry prospect chose Danville as its location. But after some last-minute discussions in the hallway outside the meeting room and a delayed start to the meeting, P&Z Director Steve Hunter told the board it was possible the application would be withdrawn.

“Sorry for the delay, but as you know in the development world, things move fast and there’s always changes. It appears a little hiccup maybe this month, so I’m going to let the client come up here,” Hunter said, noting that Winfield Frankel, attorney for the applicant, the Danville-Boyle County Economic Development Partnership, was still in the hallway on the phone. “… They’re out there talking in the hallway a little about their application … clearly there’s been more discussion in the last 30 days with this case being refiled, neighbors and what-not. So I think all of that together has made the client think about some additional items.”

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The EDP first sought an exception to the 60-foot height limit for structures in the “industrial-business development” district in January. At that time, the EDP said the business project, codenamed “Project Eagle,” wanted to located on property in the industrial park and build an unidentified structure that would be up to 150 feet tall.

Further details about the project, including what the 150-foot structure might be, have not been released. When the Board of Adjustments approved the first variance in January, EDP President Jody Lassiter said he couldn’t divulge much because he had signed a non-disclosure agreement.

Lassiter also said at the January Board of Adjustments meeting that Danville is on a “short list among three states” for the economic development project.

“The issue at hand is without a variance, Danville will be eliminated,” Lassiter said at the time. “… The decision-making process is right now; February will be the determination.”

The board voted 4-2 to approve the variance. But on Jan. 25, the EDP filed a new application for Project Eagle, this time focusing on an approximately 200-acre tract of land that runs along the west side of Norfolk Southern’s rail line through Danville, from near the viaduct on Perryville Road to the railroad cross on the U.S. 150 Bypass.

According to the Jan. 25 application, the prospective business “now requires a lot with sufficient acreage for its facility that is directly rail-served by Norfolk Southern’s Danville Terminal.”

At Thursday’s public hearing for the new variance, Lassiter said the EDP would be withdrawing the Jan. 25 application, “for potential refiling at the March meeting.”

“We’re going to be seeking additional information from the client with some recent project changes,” said Lassiter, as Frankel re-entered the meeting room, having completed his phone call.

“In the application, it was three different tracts of land,” Frankel said, referring to three sections of the 200-acre tract. The EDP had been seeking a variance for all 200 acres. “We’re going to try to narrow that down on which actual tract the client is most interested in, so we can limit … what tracts this variance is going to apply.”

Frankel said bringing the application back at the March 15 Board of Adjustments meeting “will be perfect for us.”

Without any other items on the agenda, the board adjourned after about four minutes.

There was some opposition to granting the variance the first time around: Board of Adjustments member David Anderson expressed concerns about potential unknown dangers, including “carcinogens” that could be released into the community if the 150-foot structure is for a glass manufacturing cooling tower.

“We are charged with protecting the community’s health and safety and welfare and the essential character of the area, and we don’t have enough information to assure that whatever this is will not affect any of those things,” Anderson said at the time.

No comments in favor of or against the project were made Thursday.


The next Danville-Boyle County Planning & Zoning Board of Adjustments meeting is scheduled for 10 a.m. March 15 at Danville City Hall.