West Virginia Officials Seek To Develop 12,000-Acre Industrial Site In Boone County
Last August the mining company sold the property to Virginia Conservation Legacy Fund. Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said the first step has been taken to see the Hobet project come to fruition, including preliminary site development plans and the release of a Division of Highways request for qualification for the design and construction of an access road. The first phase of the project will include developing 4,000 acres on the east side of the property.
The Governor said this project, which state officials hope will someday attract commercial and industrial development, can diversify the southern West Virginia economy that heavily depends on coal mining. The Governor noted earlier this year federal authorities refused the state’s request for $140 million in funding to assist in redeveloping the property.
"After announcing the Hobet project during my State of the State address in January, I have worked tirelessly to move this project forward, because the people of southern West Virginia and our entire state deserve to see it become a reality,” Governor Tomblin said.
“ I’m proud of the steps we have taken to launch the first phase of this project, establishing a clear path forward that will ensure it reaches its full potential, helping to diversify our state’s economy and provide new opportunities to those who have called this region home for generations,” he added.
The West Virginia Department of Transportation recently released an RFQ for the design and construction of an access road to the site. The route will include a new 2.6-mile road, heading west from U.S. Route 119 and W.Va. Route 3 to the existing haul road north of Danville in Boone County. The road will provide access to the Phase I development area, covering nearly 4,000 acres west of Corridor G. The DOH plans to award a contract in October 2016, and construction is slated to begin March 2017. The state has submitted a federal transportation grant application to fund this new stretch of four-lane road.
With the help of Marshall University’s Center for Environmental Geotechnical and Applied Sciences, mapping of the site has been completed to provide a more accurate representation of the size and scope of the project, he said. In its entirety, the Hobet property includes more than 12,000 acres of land. Mapping has also helped the team identify prospective sites for strategic development moving forward. In the coming weeks, West Virginia University will launch an industry-specific site analysis to determine the best uses for prospective development.
Local utility companies have identified existing utility lines, and the state continues to develop plans to extend water, sewer and fiber infrastructure to the site, the Governor’s office said. Costs will be determined as part of the DOT bid process.
The project has received support from local landowners, and final negotiations are underway. Land titles will be transferred to the West Virginia Economic Development Authority. The state continues to work to secure necessary land titles and outline the next phases of development for the property. The state also continues to pursue additional federal funds to support the Hobet project, help diversify the state’s economy and support local community projects, the Governor’s Office added.
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