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RIFA – LIVE! (3/14/16)

SouthsideCentral was LIVE! at Monday’s Regional Industrial Facility Authority meeting at the Danville Regional Airport. The meeting started at noon and we’ve got the most comprehensive recap of any media source. And hey, we’ve got photos! Lots of photos! Enjoy the recap.

Here’s what will happen at today’s meeting…

  • Public comment section and approval of minutes
  • One bylaw change to confirm that the chair & vice-chair can’t both be from either the city or county.
  • Approval of spending $438K to Dewberry for engineering services for the MegaPark site that’s being developed.
  • Officially approving a letter to the State Corporation Commission transferring electric service authority to the MegaPark to Appalachian, away from Danville Utilities.
  • Approving a gas service easement to serve the MegaPark.
  • Finally, a closed session.

We’re underway.

There’s nobody here but RIFA members, staff and media. Fred Wydner, Pittsylvania County’s Agriculture Development Director is here for the first time that I can remember. Wydner never said anything during the meeting, anyway. Since nobody else is here, the public comment section is nothing and the minutes are approved quickly. The bylaw change goes just as fast.

Now we move to the MegaPark site that ‘s being developed. This is a much smaller part of the property than what was originally proposed, but that big piece is still being roadblocked by the Army Corps of Engineers. Fred Shanks asks some questions about the work that Dewberry is proposing. This is one engineer talking to another so it’s a little over my head, but Fred told me later that his questions dealt with how good the current surveying was.

Here’s a fun fact that I learned during the discussion. The MegaPark isn’t technically a MegaPark anymore because they’re not developing 1000+ acres of contiguous land. Dewberry’s Shawn Harden said that he’s called it the “Berry Hill Commerce Center” in his paperwork. I don’t think that’s the official name (yet), but it sounds good.

RIFA is able to start working on this parcel because permits for this size of land can be issued by Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality, not the Army Corps of Engineers. If RIFA is able to attract some kind of prospect to the smaller parcel, that could be used to overcome the major roadblock from the Corps. The Corps won’t budge on the permitting process on the whole property until there’s a prospect, but RIFA can’t get a prospect until permitting has started. It’s confusing, I know… but this looks like a new way to make things work.

The engineering work is approved on a 4-0 vote. We move to the request to send a letter to the State Corporation Commission endorsing switching the MegaPark’s electric service territory from Danville Utilities to Appalachian. Danville Utilities could serve the MegaPark but it would take around $50 million to do so. Appalachian is already in the area and can easily handle the power needs. After some questions about this, it passes 4-0.

Finally, Transcontinental Gas Company (Transco) needs an easement on MegaPark land for some pipeline work. TransCo was willing to pay for this, but RIFA is going to need an easement from TransCo down the road so they’ve cut a deal to give them the easement in exchange for getting their’s when they need it.

We move to the closed session that lasts around an hour. No action is taken afterwards on what they discussed so we move to the around the horn session. Bob Warren & Fred Shanks thank the staff for their work before the meetings to keep everybody up-to-date.

We’re done! Let’s wrap up this article with some photos.

All members of RIFA are here, so we’ll get started. Fred Shanks is also here but just out of camera range.

Assistant Pittsylvania County Administrator Greg Sides makes his presentation.

We told you Fred Shanks was here. Heh.

We’re honored to bring you a good photo of Shawn Harden.

Jessie Barksdale asks Shawn Harden a question.

The staff always sits at this end of the big conference table.

Finance Director Michael Adkins talks about the financial reports.

And now to some camera photos!

Fred Shanks asks a question to Shawn Harden.

Clockwise around the table from the far left, we have Ric Drazenovich, Matt Rowe, Telly Tucker, Clarence Monday, Greg Sides & Ken Larking.

And that’s enough for now. Thanks for reading the most comprehensive article on Monday’s RIFA meeting… only here on SouthsideCentral!

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