ESTATE


DHEC approves permit for coal plant
2009/02/12, 9:28 pm
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There are many mixed feelings in the area about this subject and article I ran across in the journal by Mike Fitts. How do you feel about the impact it may have

Published Feb. 12, 2009

The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control has given approval to an air quality permit for Santee Cooper to build a $1.25 billion coal-burning plant on the banks of the Great Pee Dee River.

The vote taken Thursday afternoon, after the board conferred with legal counsel behind closed doors, was 4-2 in favor of the coal-plant permit. The vote supported the recommendation made by DHEC staff members.

Earlier in the day, air quality staff members told the board during the second hearing on the permit that they were obliged to approve the permit for a coal-burning power plant if Santee Cooper followed the permitting rules.

DHEC issued an air quality permit Dec. 16 for the electricity generation station planned for Florence County. Thursday’s hearing was an appeal of that decision.

Santee Cooper’s representatives told DHEC’s board this morning that, after a thorough review of demand for electricity in South Carolina, it found the state will experience a big deficit even if conservation measures are put into place. After looking at the options, Santee Cooper said the most efficient and reliable way to generate electricity in South Carolina is by burning pulverized coal.

Yesterday, Gov. Mark Sanford announced his opposition to Santee Cooper’s plans to build the coal-burning plant.

“As policymakers, in times of changing situations, we must be willing to change,” he said.

Sanford said he reached his decision based on the changing economic landscape and, in direct opposition to Santee Cooper, said the state’s demand for power has decreased.

Santee Cooper spokesman Laura Varn said the utility has been working with the state for the past three years to secure an air permit.

“The need for power is real,” Varn said, “and the facility is required to meet the growing energy needs of the people of South Carolina.”



Breaking News: Certified industrial site near St. George extends region’s large-tract development
2009/02/11, 1:39 pm
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The region’s first certified industrial site, a 610-acre park near St. George, is the latest effort to develop logistics, manufacturing and warehousing acreage in Dorchester County.

Winding Wood Industrial Center, which Dorchester County announced Tuesday night, joins a growing development effort near the interchange of Interstates 95 and 26. Jafza International, based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, is developing a 1,300-acre, $600 million logistics park north of Winding Wood in Orangeburg County.

South of the new site, in the Jedburg area north of Summerville, efforts are ongoing to develop warehouse and intermodal operations on nearly 17 million square feet of industrial and large-scale distribution space.

Winding Wood will accommodate manufacturing, distribution and other operations that require large tracts of land, Jon Baggett, Dorchester County’s economic development director, said in a statement.

Depending on individual project requirements, the site can be subdivided into lots ranging from 20 to 50 acres, Baggett said.

Dorchester County Council Chairman Jamie Feltner, a longtime advocate of site development, welcomed the completion of the site certification process.

“With this certified site, Dorchester County can take full advantage of our most significant business asset: the intersection of I-95 and I-26. We’ve not had that opportunity until now,” he said.

Baggett said the county pursued the certified site designation to meet the demand for port-served industrial sites near the I-95 corridor and to address the need for job opportunities in upper Dorchester County.

“In today’s competitive business environment, companies need to be up and running as quickly as possible,” Baggett said. “This certification offers companies requiring both port and interstate access a low-risk option to help them make a fast decision. It also provides Dorchester County a competitive advantage in attracting quality jobs and investment for local residents, especially in the upper part of the county.”

Winding Wood Industrial Center is one of 68 certified sites in South Carolina. The state’s certified site designation applies to industrial sites that have been analyzed to assure no major development issues exist, as determined by the S.C. Department of Commerce.

The certification process typically includes verification of the property’s ownership and availability, documentation of supporting infrastructure, an environmental assessment, surveys for cultural and protected resources, seismic classification and other critical analyses.

“Residents in the upper part of the county are eager for good paying job opportunities closer to home,” said Dorchester County Council Vice Chairman Willie Davis, who represents the upper part of the county. “This industrial center is a welcome development and is coming at a very good time. When the economy turns and companies start investing in new manufacturing plants, we’ll be able to accommodate them immediately.”

The Winding Wood Industrial Center will complement the new St. George Quick Jobs Center, which is scheduled to open in 2010. The center, a collaboration between Dorchester County and Trident Technical College, will provide 60- to 90-day training programs for manufacturing, distribution and other operations requiring specialized skills. The center is located less than a mile from Winding Wood.

“Today marks an important step forward for both Dorchester County and the town of St. George,” said St. George Mayor Anne Johnston. “With both the new job training center and the certified industrial site, our town is in a prime position to benefit from new economic development opportunities. We’re thrilled with both of these new developments.”

To certify the site, Dorchester County partnered with the S.C. Power Team, the economic development alliance of Santee Cooper and the state’s 20 electric cooperatives. The Charleston Regional Development Alliance, which promotes the three-county region for new business investment, facilitated a matching state grant to help fund the certification. Engineering firm BP Barber of Columbia conducted the certification.
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Deal for school to benefit city
2009/02/10, 1:04 pm
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Deal for school to benefit city

By David Slade
The Post and Courier
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
In an unusual arrangement aimed at putting a new school on Charleston’s upper peninsula, the city is poised to buy land on Meeting Street for $4.75 million and then lease it at essentially no charge to Meeting Street Academy.

Brad Nettles
The Post and Courier

The city of Charleston is considering buying this piece of property bounded by Conroy, Meeting, Cool Blow and Nassau streets from South Carolina Electric & Gas for $4.75 million and to then sublease it to Meeting Street Academy.

Under the deal, according to city officials, Meeting Street Academy would build a roughly $9 million school for kindergarten through eighth-grade students on the 2.4-acre site.

The plan calls for a gymnasium and a park that would be available to area residents.

City Council will consider the deal at a meeting tonight, following a unanimous recommendation by council’s Real Estate Committee on Monday.

Meeting Street Academy is a nonprofit institution that opened last summer and currently serves about 40 preschoolers in a former church at 1156 King St.

Though private, the school charges a nominal dollar-a-day tuition and is funded by a foundation created by Charleston-based Sherman Financial Group, city officials said.

“It’s absolutely remarkable,” Mayor Joe Riley said. “This is another center of excellence in education.”

Although the school exists only as a start-up preschool today, Riley and other city officials were effusive in their praise for the institution, which requires parents to sign contracts agreeing to help their children with homework and spend time volunteering in the school, among other things.

More info
Meeting Street Academy’s web site

The school’s Web site states that it’s mission is “to establish and maintain a rich and dynamic learning environment for children from families who care deeply about their children’s education but cannot afford traditional private schools.”

The land the city plans to buy is a large vacant lot on the east side of Meeting Street between Cool Blow and Conroy streets, currently owned by South Carolina Electric & Gas.

The location is in the heart of a fast-changing section of Charleston. Across Meeting Street is a former mattress factory where the South Carolina Research Authority and the city plan to invest up to $5 million to create research and laboratory space for biomedical start-up companies.

On the south side of the property, there’s a new condominium development on Cool Blow Street. On the north side, there’s public housing.

The Post and Courier

The proposed deal with SCE&G calls for the city to agree to buy the land for $4.75 million, but the city would not have to pay for nearly five years. Riley said the ultimate cash cost could be much lower because the city hopes to arrange land deals with the utility and to find sites in Charleston for needed sub-stations.

If the sale agreement is signed, the city would lease the land to Meeting Street Academy for 50 years, with options to renew. For this, the school would be charged a total of $10.

Riley said he thinks the school will be a national model, but he also said there’s value to the city and its residents in the gym and park area the school would build, which would be available for city recreation programs and community use. He said it would have cost the city about $4 million to create such facilities.

“I know that the school is a great idea,” said Councilman Jimmy Gallant, who represents that section of Charleston. “I’m totally for it.”

Council members Gary White and Yvonne Evans also voted to recommend the deal.

School officials did not attend the meeting and could not be reached at the school after hours Monday evening.

Sherman Financial Group, the school’s backer, is a company that buys distressed debt.

Reach David Slade at 937-5552 or dslade@postandcourier.com.