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Elizabethtown has received permission to move forward on the Towne Drive extension to Veterans Way, but the permit comes with strings attached.
The city has been instructed to pay $379,728 to the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources Stream and Wetland Mitigation Program as a stipulation of a permit issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The payment is required for the purchase of 1,582.2 Adjusted Mitigation Units, which are used to measure stream mitigation.
According to a letter issued last month by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the units must be purchased before fill is discharged into U.S. waters.
The project, which will create a new connector to Towne Mall, is expected to impact 298 linear feet of Shaw Creek and 581 linear feet of a perennial tributary of Shaw Creek, which is an outlet off the main stream that flows throughout the year.
Executive Assistant Charlie Bryant said the city anticipated the fee and believes enough money has been budgeted to offset the cost and still cover construction costs this year. However, he said the total cost will not be known until the city bids the project.
Finance Director Steve Park said the city has allocated $2.5 million toward the project this year and he hopes it covers all costs.
“It will definitely get us through June,” Park said.
Robert Bush, director of stormwater management, said the city has dealt with similar fees in the past when requesting permits from the Corps of Engineers and has no choice but to accept to the stipulations.
Bush said Lexington firm Third Rock Consultants, which specializes in environmental assessments, obtained a poor rating for the affected stream or the city would have to pay more in fees to disturb a teeming habitat. Bush said the Corps of Engineers evaluates streams to determine how sustainable the environment is for life.
“A good stream would support a lot of life in there,” he said.
Bush said the effort has been estimated to cost roughly $3 million and will likely take a year to construct once bid. In addition to the road work, the city is constructing a detention basin to retain stormwater runoff.
Bush said the city is in negotiations with an adjacent property owner to secure land and an easement needed to proceed with the work and has paperwork to revise. But he believes everything will be in place to bid the project by late winter.
“Hopefully this is a project we can stretch out over a number of construction seasons because of the complexity of it,” he said.
In its letter, the Corps of Engineers also instructs the city to install “adequate” erosion and sedimentation measures around all disturbed earth until those areas are stabilized and replenished with vegetation.
The Corps of Engineers indicated no other problems should arise to delay construction.
“The work is minor in nature, will not have a significant impact on the environment and should encounter no opposition,” the Corps stated in the letter.
Elizabethtown City Council voiced its aggravation Monday during its work session. Councilman Ron Thomas said he is told when he purchases a fishing license those fees are the primary source of revenue for the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
“It just makes me mad,” Thomas said of the fee.
Thomas expressed a desire to invite Department of Fish and Wildlife representatives to Elizabethtown to explain the fee.
“They’ll charge you for that, too,” Mayor Tim Walker said.
Marty Finley can be reached at (270) 505-1762 or firstname.lastname@example.org.