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Hall is hopeful permit OK is nearing

Sunday, March 23, 2014

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer

A long-sought grading permit for Commonwealth Crossing Business Centre (CCBC) is in the “higher levels of approval,” according to County Administrator Tim Hall.

According to previous Bulletin reports, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been reluctant to issue the permit due to the lack of a company that has publicly committed to the site and prepared detailed blueprints. Yet a company will not relocate to the site without an approved permit.

“We’ve been in pretty good contact with (the Army Corps of Engineers) for a while,” Hall said. “They’re getting more comfortable with our responses to their questions. There’s been a lot of give and take.”

The list of questions that the corps has is shrinking, Hall said, and he is hopeful that the permit dilemma, which first was reported by the Bulletin in October 2012, soon will be resolved.

“When and if we receive (the permit), we want to move as quickly as possible,” he said.

To that end, the Henry County Board of Supervisors will consider awarding a contract for mitigation bank credits for CCBC at its 3 p.m. meeting on Tuesday.

According to Hall, officials with a construction project must measure its environmental impact and then buy mitigation bank credits, which are measured in linear feet. For example, if a construction project were to cause runoff in one linear foot of a nearby stream, the project officials would have to buy credit for one linear foot of stream from a mitigation bank.

The mitigation bank property that the credit is purchased for will remain protected and off-limits to construction, which helps offset the environmental impact of the construction project.

Tim Pace, director of engineering for Henry County Public Service Authority, said that the CCBC grading project will affect an estimated 8,165 linear feet of stream, 0.28 of an acre of forested wetlands and 0.03 of an acre of emergent wetlands (those under standing water).

According to Pace, the mitigation plan that the county has presented to the Army Corps of Engineers and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will place a portion of county property into preservation, which will cover roughly half of the needed credits, while the remaining credits will be purchased from one of three mitigation banks in the Roanoke River Basin.

The CCBC site is off U.S. 220 South near the Virginia/North Carolina border. While the facility will be in Virginia, Hall said, one access road will partially be in North Carolina, and as a result, mitigation bank credits also will need to be purchased in North Carolina.

“Of course, we’re going to be rewarding these (credit contracts) contingent on Army Corps and DEQ approval,” Pace said, “but we’re further along today than we have been in the last 24 months.”

 

 
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