Corps, congressional delegation discuss Martinsville project

Norfolk District Public Affairs
Published Nov. 28, 2012

WASHINGTON - Members of the U.S Army Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality met with members of Virginia's congressional delegation here today to discuss the permit application for a Martinsville, Va., business center complex.

Col. Paul Olsen, commander of the Corps' Norfolk District, and Meg Gaffney-Smith, chief of the Corps' regulatory program, joined Reps. Robert Hurt and Morgan Griffith, and other federal, state and local officials at the request of Sen. Mark Warner, who hosted the meeting.

The meeting focused on a federal permit application for the Commonwealth Crossing Business Center, a proposed 726-acre development in Henry County, Va.

 "It was a good discussion about the complexities of this permit application," Olsen said. "The interests of the country, the Corps, the commonwealth and the community were well represented."

Discussion during the meeting included the economic challenges of the community and the Corps' commitment to following the processes established by its federal permitting authorities,Olsen said.

"A common misconception is that the Corps wants to say 'no' to development, but that's not the case, " Olsen said. "The truth is that the Corps denies only about 3 percent of permit applications nationally. Our authorities, established by Congress and evaluated by the federal court system, require us to evaluate each situation according to a process that balances socioeconomic needs with our responsibility to protect valuable aquatic resources in compliance with the Clean Water Act."

In the case of the Commonwealth Crossing permit application, the Corps needs clearer information on the potential end user and detailed site-design criteria specific to that user, said Tom Walker, chief of the Norfolk District's regulatory branch.

"The bottom line in this case," Olsen said, "is that we're committed to exploring any solution that's within our Congressionally-mandated authorities."