CHESAPEAKE, Va. — Sitting on Trade Street is a few industrial lots for various purposes. Shipping containers and tractor-trailers sit in the space where a new company is looking to change it all.
As part of Virginia's clean energy initiative, a company called Crossroads Energy Storage is looking to place a battery energy storage facility at this location. It's positioned right next to a neighborhood where families live and across the street from a number of businesses.
The project plans to have about 114 containers that will store the energy from wind turbines and solar panels. It will have 26 transformers also on the property between those containers.
"So, as this energy is produced, it needs to be stored somewhere and these are the facilities it's going to be stored at," Chesapeake's Planning Director Jimmy McNamara explained.
McNamara said because zoning laws don't require the company to receive special permission from the city officials, they actually had very little say in the project's approval.
However, he said the city manager and other officials are working closely with the company to ensure safety measures and other forms of mitigation are taking place before construction begins.
"We've included landscape buffers. We're working on mitigating sound that would be anticipated," McNamara said. "It's essentially a tool in our toolbox to offset some of the negative impacts they are anticipating."
McNamara said he and city council members created a formal public hearing, which will take place Tuesday, March 21 during the city council meeting. Natalie Weston, who lives nearby, said she will be at that public hearing.
"There are plenty of other places in Virginia that this place could be built," Westin expressed. "Not here. Not beside homes."
Westin has one thing on her mind: she does not want this facility taking up her backyard.
"My parents, that's their house," said Westin. "That's where they are going to retire and if they can't sell it because of something they build, and what's that going to do to their property value? There are just a lot of unknowns. What if there is an emergency and we have to evacuate? There's only one route in and out to our neighborhood."
Westin said she and other neighbors did not receive the same flyers in the mail some homes right next to the property received from city leaders. She said she wished the company managers leading this project would have taken residents' concerns into perspective before implementing the plans for the facility.
"Even though they [City of Chesapeake] can't stop this project," said Westin. "There should be something about the proximity of how close it is to our residential homes and businesses affected when something like this happens."
According to the company's project overview, leaders expect to complete the facility by 2026.