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Legislation introduced Thursday could speed approval of Henry County economic development site

By Web Staff, WDBJ7, news@wdbj7.com
Published On: Aug 01 2013 08:07:50 PM EDT
Updated On: Aug 02 2013 09:00:13 PM EDT

They say an industrial park could help put a lot of people to work. It was supposed to open more than five years ago, but today it's empty because of legal road-blocks

HENRY CO., Va. -

New legislation introduced Thursday could speed up the approval of an economic development site in Henry County.

Robert Hurt(R), Tim Kaine(D), Mark Warner(D) and Morgan Griffith(R) teamed up Thursday to introduce the Commonsense Permitting for Job Creation Act in both houses of Congress.

The legislation would address the longstanding controversy in Henry County over the 726 acre proposed Commonwealth Crossing Business Center.

Henry County and the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corp. have attempted to secure a permit for site preparation of the business center, hoping that it would attract one or multiple job-creating manufacturing firms to the county.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hesitated to issue the permit because no company had publicly committed to the site and prepared detailed blueprints. A company will not relocate to the site without an approved permit, but a permit cannot be approved without a company willing to relocate.

The new legislation specifies that the lack of a committed end-user company shall not be a reason to deny a Corps permit that meets all other legal requirements.

For more information, see full press release below:

Hurt, Kaine, Warner, Griffith Introduce Bill To Address Commonwealth Crossing Site


WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Robert Hurt, along with Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and Representative Morgan Griffith, today introduced the Commonsense Permitting for Job Creation Act in both houses of Congress. The bipartisan, bicameral legislation would address the longstanding controversy in Henry County over the 726-acre proposed Commonwealth Crossing Business Center, and expedite the approval of an important economic development site.

Henry County and the Martinsville-Henry Co. Economic Development Corp. have long worked to secure a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for site preparation, in hopes of attracting one or multiple job-creating manufacturing firms to the county. However, the Corps 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. A company will not relocate to the site without an approved permit, but a permit cannot be approved without a company willing to relocate. The Commonsense Permitting for Job Creation Act specifies that the lack of a committed end-user company shall not be a reason to deny a Corps permit that meets all other legal requirements.

“I am proud to introduce this important legislation today. The Commonsense Permitting for Job Creation Act will allow the Commonwealth Crossing project to move forward and create jobs for Henry County, while remaining in line with commonsense environmental protections. An economic-development site – whether it be in Henry County, Pittsylvania County, or other localities in the Fifth District looking to attract new businesses – should never be delayed or denied because of so-called ‘speculative development’ concerns, and I am pleased that we are making strides toward eliminating that regulatory interpretation. I would like to thank my colleagues, Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and Representatives Griffith and Hanna for their strong support of this bill. I look forward to working with them to pass this important measure,” said Congressman Hurt.

“Henry County and the Martinsville-Henry Co. Economic Development Corp. have done extraordinary work to develop the Commonwealth Crossing Business Center site,” said Senator Kaine. “They have worked in good faith – at great cost in money and personnel hours – to promote economic development in line with environmental protection and all requirements of the law. Yet due to a regulatory quirk, this process is unable to move forward. Our legislation fixes that quirk. I believe this bill will allow Commonwealth Crossing to move forward while maintaining all environmental protections. I intend to continue working with my colleagues in the Senate and House in both parties to move this legislation forward.”

“This bipartisan legislation will allow us to finally move forward on developing the Commonwealth Crossing Business Center. I’m proud that we’ve been able to work across the aisle and with state and local officials to remove this regulatory hurdle. This is a commonsense, bipartisan solution that will help create real jobs in Henry County,” said Senator Warner.

“Advancing Commonwealth Crossing and encouraging further economic development in Martinsville and Southern Virginia remain a priority of mine. I commend Henry County officials and the Martinsville-Henry County Economic Development Corporation for their hard work on this problem thus far, and will continue working with Senator Warner, Senator Kaine, and Congressman Hurt to move this legislative solution forward,” said Congressman Griffith.

Congressman Richard Hanna (R-NY) is also a cosponsor of this legislation.