Forest Pro set to break ground

Published 10:05 am Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Forest Pro, Inc. is set to break ground within the next 30 days at the entrance of Heartland Regional Industrial Park, according to Virginia Heartland Regional Industrial Facility Authority Chairman Gary Walker.

Gary Walker

Walker, who also serves on the Charlotte County Board of Supervisors, said the company is looking to have its facility in operation by the beginning of next year.

According to Walker, the processes of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) held back the opening the business, which will act as a Tigercat franchise that sells new and used forestry equipment.

He said any new business in Charlotte County was always an asset to the county.

“It will be few jobs for people and it will also be some tax benefit to the county and to the Heartland Park,” Walker said, referencing benefits the business will bring to the county.

The authority previously agreed to pay $40,000 in reimbursements to Forest Pro, providing set provisions were met after construction of the new business.

“They learned late in the process, and I think late in 2016, that there was going to be a cost associated with their project, which they had not anticipated,” said Russell Slayton, the authority’s attorney during the authority’s first meeting this year in reference to Forest Pro.
According to Slayton, officials with Forest Pro spoke with Walker and learned the cost would be about $80,000.

The $80,000 fee is not associated with only a DEQ permit, according to Slayton, but a phosphorus remediation charge at the site.
While there are three ways remediation could be accomplished, Slayton said the option of purchasing DEQ approved credits would cost just over $83,000 in addition to $2,700 for a DEQ permit, totaling around $86,000.
“The $86,000 exceeds the amount that was discussed,” Slayton said, noting both parties were unaware of the additional fee at the time of the sale.
Forest Pro initially purchased 16.84 acres from the authority for $180,000 in 2015 to construct its facility.
Slayton said it was not uncommon for a company to ask for an incentive.

“I’m not opposed to an incentive package,” C.R.“Bob” Timmons, who represents Prince Edward County on the authority, said during the authority’s February meeting, “…but, I would like to have some sort of estimate from someone that would say that putting in the forebays (stone baffles) … in the existing pond, and then a 20- or 30-year maintenance cost for those forebays is going to be (a certain amount) versus $40,000 or $80,000.”

The forebays would be used to retain the phosphorus from entering the pond.

Timmons said even with purchasing the credits there will still be a phosphorus discharge in the pond. “I’m not really comfortable with that, personally,” Timmons said. He suggested the authority table the request and gather estimates on correcting the pond to DEQ requirements.

Slayton said in order to seek out the alternatives, more work must be completed, which would come with a bill.

“We’ve sold him the land, he owns it,” Walker in February. “Mr. (Charles) Tapscott has been waiting for 16 months now … he’s beyond frustrated. He bought the land in November 2015 and he thought he was going to have it built by January or February of last year.”

Slayton drafted an agreement outlining a number of conditions, which would reflect Forest Pro receiving the reimbursement after construction of the facility and a specific set of provisions had been met.

According to the approved agreement, “at the time of closing, both parties believed that the site had been approved by the Virginia (DEQ) for the improvements thereon proposed by (the) company (Forest Pro), and that no fee was due to DEQ.”

It was not until after the closing that the $80,000 was necessary in order for the approval and issuance of a permit from DEQ. According to the agreement, in order to receive the $40,000 reimbursement from the authority, Forest Pro must secure a certificate of occupancy and submit a copy to the authority, pay an $80,000 fee to DEQ “for review and approval of Company’s application, and issuance of a permit to the company,” submitting all necessary items to DEQ to receive a permit in order to enable proposed site improvements outlined in the agreement.

Improvements must be completed no later than Dec. 31, according to the agreement.