Whitehaven sandblasting business gains approval

The sandblasting operation is at the top of the photo, across Whitehaven Roard from Habanera Farm. The Village of Whitehaven is about a mile to the south.

The Wicomico County Board of Zoning Appeals on Thursday gave preliminary approval for a special exception requested by Ron Holloway, who runs a sandblasting business at his home near Whitehaven.

Preliminary approval was granted pending the board’s lawyer, Roscoe Leslie, presenting Finding of Fact in time for the next Board meeting on Nov. 29, Clark Meadows, Wicomico County Zoning Administrator, told the Salisbury Independent Friday morning.

“Given complexities of the case, it’s at the chairman’s discretion to have formal Finding of Fact. For most normal meetings and cases that aren’t as controversial, the board will adopt the staff report as Finding of Fact,” Meadows said.

Also on Thursday, the board chairman closed all future testimony.

If formal approval is granted, opponents have 30 days to appeal to county Circuit Court.

Holloway’s sandblasting and painting business, on 45 acres about a mile from Whitehaven, has raised the ire of some residents in the area, including owners of Habanera Farm across the road, who insist they need silence for their tea mixing and herbal business.

Holloway, though, has maintained the machine is no louder than a vacuum cleaner and doesn’t even require hearing protection when he stands next to it.

Reached early Friday, Holloway said he “sure did” get preliminary approval, but is expecting an appeal.

“It turned out the way it needed to turn out but it’s not over,” he said.

“I wasn’t too confident for the sole fact that they are trying to make up so many lies and alternatives to what is really going on.

“My everyday way of life is going to get screwed up because of this because if I want to work on my truck, it’s just me having some fun in my shop, just doing my own work,” Holloway said.

Henriette den Ouden, co-owner of Habanera Farm, couldn’t be reached for comment Friday, but last week, before the Board of Zoning Appeals meeting, compared the sound of the sandblasting to a train.

“I can tell you it’s not anywhere near a train. It’s more like a vacuum. That’s the kind of reaction I’ve been getting. Belligerent. It’s a little ridiculous,” Holloway countered.

“What was said is what was said. The facts are the facts,”

Holloway said.

Holloway opened Eastern Shore Media Blasting in August 2017.

Den Ouden and co-owner Chris Himmel, who live at 2916 Whitehaven Road in Tyaskin, last week described their business as “a bio-diverse herb farm owned 100 percent by women, opened in 2006 and Maryland’s only certified herb processor.”

And, it’s 40 feet from where Holloway sandblasts rust and paint off farm equipment and snow plows owned by the State Highway Administration.

“The noise is comparable to a passing train that never fully passes,” den Ouden complained.

“Pending the size of the objects sandblasted, the noise is continuously for one to six hours with very few interruptions. The character of the noise is a very steady, loud, ongoing hissing noise. This noise is not comparable to regular farm noise,” she said.

Holloway, though, dismissed the matter as “not really that big of deal.”

The sandblaster is no louder than a power washer, he said.

“I have had problems with anything on that road that is new. They want to keep everything as it is,” he told the Salisbury Independent.

“I’m just trying to make a buck. I work 8 to 5. It’s not constantly at all hours. I paint and take the rust off agricultural equipment. Farm implements are big this time of year. I work on snow plows. I have a State Highway Administration contract. I take the rust off those,” he said.

He started the business three years ago, then bought the farm last year.

“They have been complaining since after I got here. I’m trying to be respectful. I don’t sandblast after 5 p.m. The past few days I’ve been quitting around 4:30,” he said.

“He is a total liar, a total, total liar,” den Ouden said, her voice rising.

“That is ridiculous. A vacuum cleaner goes on for how long? His vacuum cleaner goes on for six hours without interruption. At the same time I am trying to teach classes. I have a high school class here. I have a group of blind people walking into here,” she said.

Holloway, though, said his work is “nothing major.”

“There are no employees. I’m a one-man show doing a five-man job. They don’t have anything better to do,” he said of objectors.

“It’s pretty ridiculous,” he said not only about the uproar, but signs now posted around Whitehaven, at the church and school.

“I’m not even in Whitehaven,” Holloway said calmly.

“I’m in Tyaskin. Whitehaven is about a mile away. The signs just popped up. They are stirring people up. The bed and breakfast in Whitehaven isn’t complaining. They are nice people,” Holloway said.

“It does not stop. He has a new one (machine) that is really, really loud. He has done it the whole weekend until 8 p.m. Sometimes he stops and paints in the evening.

“If you want to compare the noise it’s like a train that never passes. I can deal with a little noise for like five minutes — starting up a car or a motorcycle — but ongoing this long is irritating me,” she said.

“We came here because it’s beautiful. The soil is good for the earth.

“We are the only tea farm in Maryland. We are having people come from all over Maryland to learn how to do this and even from farther away than Maryland.

“You can’t concentrate. You see birds fly but you don’t hear them anymore.”

 

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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