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Clarksville gets more time for Cove Project / August 26, 2015

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has agreed to renew the permits for the Cove Project, giving the Town of Clarksville three more years to seek funding for the plan, Town Manager Jeff Jones told Council at Tuesday’s meeting.

The Cove Project was first developed in 1999 to install a municipal harbor with boat slips and a waterfront park in downtown Clarksville.

The permits, which include a finding by the Council on Environmental Quality that the proposed project will not significantly affect the quality of the human environment, are needed before construction can begin on the Cove Project. The permits were originally issued in 2010 by the USACE Norfolk Office and were set to expire this year.

The extension comes with a new limitation: that no tree clearing takes place between April 15 and Sept. 15 as endangered bats will be roosting in the trees at that time, according to USACE officials. If winter tree removal is not feasible, then ten trees at a time can be surveyed for removal purposes, as long as they are found to be free of roosting bats.

While the town currently does not have the funds needed to build the Cove Project — estimated at between $4 million and $7 million — Jones said he believes it is critical to have the permits in place should funding become available.

During the recent update of the town’s comprehensive plan, members of the Clarksville Planning Commission, who drafted the 2015 comp plan, said the Cove Project was key to the town’s future as a tourist destination, because it creates the physical and visual tie between the town and the lake and makes downtown Clarksville a destination point for boaters.

In other business, Jones shared “good news” for Council, which earlier hired Paul Jacobson of Davenport & Company to restructure some of the town’s debt in hopes of saving money. By participating in the VRA (Virginia Resources Authority) pooled financing program Jacobson said the town could save nearly $450,000 in interest payments after refinancing a 2004 rural development loan.

Council approved the refinancing.

Also, Council approved bids from the low bidders on the Clarksville sewer improvement project. The town is waiting for final approval from USDA Rural Development before moving forward on this $2 million upgrade to the town’s wastewater treatment plant, sewer pump stations and sewer system.

Two contracts were approved, the first is to upgrade the wastewater treatment plant and remote sewer pumps. This contract for $828,600 was awarded to H.G. Reynolds Co. out of Aiken, S.C., but with local offices in Henderson, N.C.

Lyttle Utilities, Inc. of Richmond was the low bidder, at $1,032,474.50, on the second contract, which calls for improvements to Clarksville’s aging sewer system, including the replacement of several lines throughout the town.

Jones said he expects work to begin on these projects in the next 30 to 60 days.

Council also moved forward on one of the recommendations from the planning commission — to review and update zoning designations throughout the town, where needed.

These are administrative changes, Jones explained, restoring some newly annexed properties to the zoning status that was in place before the areas were annexed into Clarksville last year. The first changes will be to properties off Old Rock Road, specifically the Terrace Apartments, Springfield Properties II, and Stripers Cove II.

Before these areas were annexed into Clarksville, Jones said, they were zoned for high density residential use. After annexation, they were given an R-1 designation, which is low density. Since the areas already have multi-family structures either existing or planned, Jones said they needed to be appropriately zoned.

The new designation, if approved, will be R-3, high density residential.

Ronald Lipscomb of Halifax is the newest member of the Clarksville police department. He was sworn in during Tuesday night’s meeting of the town council.

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