Security firm moving to Montross
January 13, 2009 12:35 am


The Westmoreland County Industrial Development Authority last night accepted a proposal from a security firm to establish a tactical training center to teach combat, marksmanship and driving at a county-owned industrial building and 350 surrounding acres.

Under the proposal, The O'Gara Group will pay $679,178 to the county for its 50,000-square-foot shell building and 25 acres of surrounding land near Montross.

The company, based in Cincinnati, Ohio, will also purchase for an undisclosed amount a 325-acre farm that adjoins the county property.

The training center will employ 20 full-time and 60 part-time workers, said Ronald Boline, O'Gara's tactical operations branch manager.

"Three or four" of the workers are presently employed by the company, he said.

The acreage will be used for a variety of driving courses and shooting ranges.

A six-square-block "urban area" will also be constructed to simulate urban situations and combat, Boline said.

He said that the existing steel shell building, which has sat vacant since the county built it in 2000, will be renovated to contain lodging for 125 students, a 100-seat auditorium, a gymnasium and kitchen, dining, office and garage space.

Boline said O'Gara will spend between $12 million and $20 million to develop the site.

Work will begin immediately, with completion set for August or September.

Training at the site using temporary buildings and two 200-yard firing ranges could begin as early as mid-March, he said.

"Our goal is to be a good neighbor in the county," said Boline, a former Navy SEAL who lives in King George County.

To that end, he said O'Gara would cease nighttime gunfire "as early as possible" and "minimize" clearing of the property's 300 acres of woodland.

Local police would also be allowed free use of shooting ranges and a 1.5-mile-long driving track, he said.

Boline said its new Montross site will replace its present tactical training center at Virginia International Raceway near Danville.

Being closer to Washington, D.C., may help O'Gara obtain contracts from military and government agencies, he said.

Last year, intense local opposition caused O'Gara to withdraw plans to relocate its training facility first in Louisa County and then in Essex County.

However, no zoning, conditional-use permits or public hearings will be required in Westmoreland, said Richard H. Stuart, O'Gara's local attorney, and Darryl E. Fisher, chairman of the county board of supervisors.

"This is a school. A school is allowed by right where the center will be located. The school's accessory uses, like the firing ranges and the driving courses, are also permitted by right," said Stuart.

In 2007, another security-training company named Cohort International considered purchasing the county building and as much as 1,400 acres of land, but the company located in New Hampshire instead of Virginia.

Frank Delano: 804/333-3834