Intermodal park still possible site of correctional center

Published 3:46 pm Monday, September 24, 2018

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...


Despite the discovery of wetlands indicators throughout much of the proposed third phase of Isle of Wight County’s Shirley T. Holland Intermodal Park, two sites remain in consideration as the location of a proposed 60-bed juvenile correctional facility.

The primary location the county is considering is located along Walters Highway, south of the town of Windsor. An alternate location along Buckhorn Drive is also still in contention.

“At this time we are concentrating on one location, an EDA (Economic Development Authority) owned property along Walters Highway (U.S. Route 258,) with a 115.6-acre parcel, but have not determined a precise location for the facility on that parcel,” said Chris Morello, Isle of Wight County’s director of economic development.

He explained that a precise location will be determined after the county gains a more advanced understanding of numerous factors, including environmental and facility design factors.

On Sept. 6, during a special called meeting, the county’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously to authorize county staff to continue to work with Kimley-Horn — the environmental consultant the county had retained to complete the initial wetlands evaluation — in hopes of eventually obtaining an official wetlands determination from the Army Corps of Engineers.

“The next steps would not involve the Corps, necessarily,” Morello said. “The next step will be to have our consultant (Kimley-Horn) do field testing and further analysis to determine if it makes more sense to either allow the existing wetlands determination stand, which would not require Corps involvement, or to approach the Corps with a re-delineation in pursuit of a determination that is more favorable than the existing one.”

A wetlands determination/delineation involves identifying exactly where wetlands do and do not exist on a particular parcel of land. The existing determination Morello referenced on the Walters Highway location is set to expire in October 2019. Wetlands determinations are valid for five years.

According to representatives of Kimley-Horn, the reason they initially concluded that much of the park was likely wetlands was due to the presence of loblolly pine trees. The Corps looks at three characteristics when making wetlands determinations: the presence of plants commonly found on wetlands, the amount of water in the soil, and the makeup of the soil itself.

“Loblolly pine, before 2012, was considered an upland (non-wetland) plant, so buying a pine area was considered a good investment,” said Karl Mertig, one of the two Kimley-Horn representatives. “In 2012, they did a nationwide re-characterization … this plant moved from an upland classification to a wetland classification. So you now have a piece of property with all wetland plants on it.”

The county purchased the undeveloped land forming Phase III of the park from private landowners between 2007 and 2011.

To date, the county has spent $14,418 to retain the services of Kimley-Horn for the preliminary wetlands evaluation. The company has not yet provided the county with a cost for their services if asked to assist the county with securing a determination by the Corps.

Assistant County Administrator Don Robertson confirmed that the county had not yet discussed any reimbursements from the state for this cost. Per the terms of the county’s proposal to the state, Isle of Wight planned to offer 20 acres of land and up to $500,000 toward utility costs, with the state being responsible for all other expenses.