RICHMOND — The Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday approved the rezone of an area in southwest Richmond to light industrial, so the land could house a biotech fertilizer company. The rezone passed by a vote of 3-2.
Marlowe Adkins, city manager, said the rezone still needs to be approved by the Richmond City Council.
Salam Awada, owner of AG Sci Tech, asked the commission to rezone the land west of 400 West and south of 200 South. The rezone changes the land use from agricultural to manufacturing/light industrial.
Awada said AG Sci Tech will use the land to produce a soil conditioner called SOLU-PLKS. Awada said it is not harmful because it is an organic soil replenisher containing mostly organic carbon.
“It’s not hazardous whatsoever,” Awada said.
Awada said in a worst case scenario the chemical would not cause algae bloom if it seeped into a nearby creek. He said that as there is no phosphate or nitrogen in his product to cause the bloom, the only problem might be an increase of bacteria already present in the water.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, algae bloom is an increase in algae growth that, in some cases, can create toxins and harm the other organisms living in the water. Awada said SOLU-PLKS would not cause algae bloom if it was introduced into the water supply.
The proposed plant would be built to prevent any chemicals from seeping into the nearby creek, engineer Scott Morrill said. He said the building would have a two-foot high curb for the exterior foundation to contain any leaks. He said they could possibly install a series of 1,500-gallon concrete septic tanks to collect any spilled waste.
“The building will be over 140 feet from the creek,” Morrill said. “We can contour the ground so that if anything were to happen it would contour away from there.”
Awada said they will have research crops, a tree farm and a greenhouse on the property. He said they will not use anything that will give off a smell and business will have low traffic in and out of the facility.
Morrill said much more hazardous projects have used this model to contain their waste.