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Hall: Business park progress hindered by feds shutdown

Friday, October 4, 2013

By DEBBIE HALL - Bulletin Staff Writer

Two companies have been identified as potential tenants of Henry County’s newest industrial park, and work was progressing on getting the needed permits — that is until the government shut down, according to Henry County Administrator Tim Hall.

During a community meeting hosted by Collinsville District Supervisor Joe Bryant on Thursday at the Henry County Administration Building, Hall gave an update on the permitting phase for site preparation work at the Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre.

“Two specified end users have (said) ‘we will highly consider’” locating in the park if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Regulatory Office in Norfolk issues the permit for site preparation, Hall said.

Hall declined to provide additional information about the companies.

The corps is acting on behalf of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Because dirt near streams in the industrial park will be disturbed during the preparation, the permitting phase has been stalled, Hall said. The corps has declined to issue the needed permit until a specified end user is identified, he added.

Originally, Henry County, Martinsville and the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. planned to prepare 200 of the estimated 800 acres in the park, Hall said.

The corps wants the county to redesign the 200 acres and prepare a smaller portion of it, Hall said. He did not elaborate on the redesign or the number of acres to be prepared, but he said the preparation is imperative.

“In economic development, a company will not even look at you if you do not have prepared sites,” he said.

The EPA also sent questions to the county about the project, Hall said. County and EDC officials are working to answer those questions now, he added.

Although he is a self-described pessimist, Hall said he and others working on the project had been cautiously optimistic “until the government shut down the other day.”

“I do think we are making progress,” Hall said, adding that he anticipates that will continue when the government reopens.

He estimated the project will take about two years to complete once the permit is issued.

Also during the meeting Thursday, Bryant gave updates on several issues in the county, including economic development. He praised Mark Heath, president and CEO of the EDC, for his efforts. Bryant said that until he got on the board of supervisors and worked with Heath, he did not know how hard Heath worked.

Bryant also discussed personal property and real estate tax rates, tourism and litter efforts.

Henry County Sheriff Lane Perry expressed concerns about a marked increase in prescription drug abuse, as well as increases in the use of heroin and methamphetamine.

“We rarely see cocaine” abuse anymore because the profit margin is not as attractive as it once was, the sheriff added.

Craig “Rocky” Rockwell, operations manager at Philpott Lake, and Lisa Price-Hughes, resident engineer for the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), also gave updates.

During the question and answer period, residents expressed concerns about litter and abandoned properties. About 20 people attended the meeting.


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