By Carol Vaughn —
The company that has a gravel transport operation at the Onancock waterfront has put on hold a plan to also ship grain from there.
“Chaney Enterprises has delayed the grain transport operation. We are looking forward to working with, and becoming part of the community, while growing our business,” said Jan Holt, chief customer officer for Chaney, in an April 6 email to the Post.
“The Perdue (grain transport) deal seems to have been halted permanently,” Onancock Town Manager Matt Spuck told the Town Council at the Monday, April 25, council meeting.
Still, he said in his written report that the company will be increasing use of its property in town, “so the town wants to help them appropriately grow their business but maintain the charm of our community.”
Chaney, a ready‐mix concrete, aggregates, and custom blends provider based in Maryland, purchased T&W Block in Onley last year, including the Onancock barge terminal.
Onancock residents at the March council meeting said they were concerned about Chaney’s plans to expand its operations at the waterfront to include grain transport by barge.
Resident Kathy Boyd also urged the council to look at “loose B-W (business waterfront) zoning district” regulations.
Chaney had planned to ship grain, transported to the waterfront by truck, at an estimated rate of three to four barges in July and seven to eight barges in November and December, according to information received from Perdue AgriBusiness Grain during a meeting Spuck had with a representative of that company after the March council meeting.
Spuck said at Monday’s meeting he had “a few long conversations with VDOT (the Virginia Department of Transportation), and then started talks with Chaney about a couple of things.”
A traffic study would not require the company to make any changes in operation or traffic, according to VDOT, Spuck said.
Because VDOT measures traffic counts by month, “and because the (Chaney) operation is so sporadic, the truck count would not require them to make any changes to the entrances.”
King Street, where the entrances are, is VDOT maintained and the trucks comply with highway department regulations.
Still, the highway department will be clearing the storm drain on the south side of King Street to address concerns about poor drainage and will patch pavement where the surface has peeled up in places, Spuck said.
He is discussing with Chaney the possibility of giving the town a right-of-way to put a sidewalk on the north side of King Street and giving VDOT a permanent utility easement under the company’s property to allow a storm drain to be maintained by VDOT.
“The sidewalk question is two-fold. One is Chaney would have to give … the right of way for a sidewalk,” which would require moving a building on the property, Spuck said.
Additionally, the cost of the sidewalk, which is the town’s responsibility, could be partly covered through a VDOT revenue sharing program, but the next application period is not until next year, Spuck said.
Additionally, the Onancock Planning Commission is looking at updating the business waterfront zoning district regulations, according to Spuck and Mayor Fletcher Fosque.
“At this point, we want to get the B-W ordinance strengthened so that if the parcels down there do sell we are not having this conversation again, and then, what can we do to support Chaney’s improved use of the waterfront and at the same time improve our public safety,” Spuck said.
Dog Park Plan Advances
The Town Council gave consent for Spuck to move forward with planning for a dog park on around 6 acres the Onancock Volunteer Fire Department donated when it sold the former carnival grounds to a developer.
Councilman Ray Burger volunteered his time to make a preliminary design for the park, which likely will include a 1-acre fenced-in area for large dogs and a 1/2-acre fenced area for small dogs, along with parking and other features.
The park is one of 23 town projects to be funded by money the town is receiving as result of the federal American Rescue Plan Act.
Additionally, donations have been received for the project.
“OBCA (the Onancock Business and Civic Association) has … endorsed the idea of a dog park. I think caught on and ever since then we’ve been able to secure donations for the design and construction of the dog park both from OBCA and another private person,” Spuck said.
Around $25,000 of ARPA funds was set aside for the project.
Chaney Enterprises is donating poured concrete for the dog park entry area, which would cost an estimated $2,500, according to Spuck.
The estimated cost of fencing is $15,000, he said.
“This is, I think, an attraction for people to stop in our town,” said Councilwoman Joy Marino. She noted people traveling with their pets use an app to look for dog parks along their way.
“This is a great use of our ARPA funds,” she said.
Onancock Main Street Grant Match Approved
The Town Council approved a match of $12,500 required for a Virginia Main Street grant of $25,000. The match will be spent only if Onancock Main Street is awarded the grant, for which it is applying, according to OMS program director Jenny Gehman.
If OMS is awarded the grant, plans include spending $20,000 for a mural project on multiple buildings (along with $10,000 from a previous grant award); $7,000 for promotional incentives to attract visitors to downtown Onancock; $5,000 for a series of business workshops and “Main Street mixers” to which entrepreneaurs from around the Eastern Shore will be invited; and $2,500 for large, inspirational window banners to hang in windows of vacant downtown commercial buildings, according to Gehman.
The grant match if appropriated will come from a special revenue fund reserve, for which $250,000 is budgeted, according to Spuck.