By. Brent Wilson, Greene County Field Officer
Typically a rezoning request brings up concerns, both pro and con. However, the Greene County Board of Supervisors had nothing but compliments and positive comments for the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety’s (IIHS) request for a rezoning from A-1 Agricultural to M-1 Industrial at their December 11th meeting.
IIHS’s Chief Administrative Officer Joe Nolan and VP of Operations of the Vehicle Research Center Raul Arbelaez requested that an additional 25.4 acres be rezoned from the 135.4 acres that IIHS has on Dairy Road.
The main reason for the $30 million expansion is to construct a year round domed testing facility so that crash avoidance tests can be performed. The new structure would be similar to the Charlottesville Amphitheater on the Downtown Mall, IIHS would construct a 5 section structure covering 5 acres.
In addition, a 20,000 square foot facility housing 20 offices and a conference facility along with 2 trackside buildings would be constructed. Ten new positions are to be added to the current 35 employees consisting of engineers, research scientists and test drivers plus IIHS is looking to transfer some of their 66 employees in Arlington, Va. to Greene. Construction is targeted to begin in 2013.
Bart Svoboda, Greene’s Zoning Official, outlined in his presentation the project and described the impact to the surroundings as minimal. The operation sits back from Dairy Road and the property slopes away from the highway and therefore there is little visual impact and the noise level would be similar to that of a parking lot.
Chairman Buggs Peyton was excited that IIHS is expanding in Greene County. He was encouraged by the opportunity for new employment and that the tax base may increase with no additional services from the county. The remaining four supervisors all had complimentary remarks for IIHS.
Supervisor Jim Frydl commended IIHS for being a very good corporate neighbor and a great asset to Greene County. Supervisor Davis Lamb appreciated the fact that the business is friendly to the environment and thanked IIHS for being in Greene.
Supervisor Eddie Deane said it’s always good to see reports on the national news from their facility in Ruckersville, Virginia. Supervisor David Cox also appreciates what IIHS has done for Greene County and encouraged the county to pursue more businesses to relocate to Greene similar to IIHS.
While Chairman Peyton indicated IIHS will require no additional direct services from Greene County, the additional employees living in Greene for any business add to the demand for services such as education, police, fire, rescue, etc. These individuals also add to a growing Greene consumer base that supports other economic development in the County.
While no fiscal impact study was completed, it is anticipated that the types of positions being added/relocated by IIHS will have income to support homes that would generate significant property tax revenue. In addition, any improvements to the land at the current facility would also increase not only the property tax rolls but also the machine and tool taxes.
Brent Wilson is the Greene County Field Officer for the Free Enterprise Forum a privately funded public policy organization.
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