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EPD may be OK with IDA's water deals
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The Effingham Industrial Development Authority could be on its way to provide water to its I-16 project.

IDA Chief Executive Officer John Henry said state Environmental Protection Division Dr. Carol Couch is on board with the IDA’s plans to get water to the tracts through intergovernmental agreements with the county and Springfield.

“The EPD seemed to be encouraged that we were working together to get this thing done,” Henry said.

IDA members also want to be in the loop as traffic management plans and road improvements are mapped out at the interchange of I-16 and Old River Road. The two tracts of the industrial park — to be known as LogistiCenter at Savannah — straddle I-16.

Commissioners approved stipulations to the access management plan, including one that the county will not be required to fund the work. The stipulations also call for state Department of Transportation approval of any improvements, the submission of any improvements under the access management plan to the commissioners as part of site development plans and approval of the commissioners for improvements built prior to a certificate of occupancy being granted.

Moreland Altobelli Associates is drawing up plans for needed road improvements for the interchange to handle the expected traffic from the park. IDA members are concerned those plans are being done without their input.

“We don’t need to be responsible for paying for something we can’t look at,” IDA member Rose Harvey said.

“We need to have it written to where we have some access to it,” IDA member Delmons White said.

Said IDA vice-chairman Chap Bennett: “It does not need to be done in a closed room or a vacuum. We need to be involved. We don’t need to micromanage, but we need full involvement in what’s going on.”

Complete reworking of the interchange, to include traffic signals, could take from five to seven years.

Henry said the IDA needs to have “input into this document and we need it sooner rather than later.” Still, he expressed confidence that the plans will be done satisfactorily.

“I don’t think they’re trying to do anything we’re not trying to do,” he said.

Jeremy Merklinger, DP Partners Southeast regional manager, said the firm has plans for road improvements it did for a similar size park. Their studies also show that the truck traffic won’t interfere with normal traffic as expected.

“They tend to leave very, very early,” he said. “The peak times of truck traffic won’t necessarily coincide with the peak times of regular traffic.”

Plans call for a turning lane on Old River Road that will continue the flow of traffic on that road. DP Partners’ first building on the southern tract, the first of the two parcels to be developed, is expected to be a 400,000 square foot facility.

“That has to be done to get the certificate of occupancy for the 400,000 square foot building on the south side,” Merklinger said.

That would allow trucks from the port to take a left into the park and also a left to get on I-16 westbound.

“We are looking forward to getting it done,” Merklinger said.

“We’re focused on getting done what needs to get done for that first 400,000 square foot building,” Henry said.

The IDA also is getting a four-month extension on its due diligence for the property. The due diligence is an inspection of the property that shows if the property can accommodate its intended uses.

“We’ll have sufficient time in three to four months to get done what we need to get done,” Henry said. “This will provide us ample time.”

The process also will include the northern tract, meaning the IDA and DP Partners won’t have to repeat the process when plans for that land begin to take shape.