The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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July 18, 2013

Lewisburg approves excavation permit for theater complex

LEWISBURG — With all parties agreeing that drainage issues must be addressed prior to construction, city council approved granting an excavation permit to developers of a proposed movie complex.

The $5 million multiplex project has been essentially on hold since the Lewisburg Planning Commission paused the regulatory process in April to allow Barnette Development LLC time to devise a stormwater plan for the site.

The developers’ engineers are now ready to oversee exploratory excavation at the theater site, which is located toward the rear of the Gateway Commons development on U.S. 219 North.  

Tony Hinkle, Lewisburg’s zoning officer, explained that the excavation will allow testing of injection wells and a detention pond that engineers expect will address the drainage issues on the property.

Mayor John Manchester noted that issuing the excavation permit “would allow a lot of the preliminary prep work” to be done on the site, adding, “I think it’s a reasonable request.”

Hinkle urged council to OK the permit as quickly as possible, cautioning, “This is a pretty big project, and weather will become a concern.”

He predicted site work would begin next week if council were to grant the excavation permit.

The permit does not allow blasting at the site without further action by council, and the developers — who were present at Tuesday’s city council session for the discussion — assured concerned neighboring property owners that there would be no digging on Sundays or late at night.

With those caveats and the stipulation that the injection wells would have to pass muster with both Barnette’s engineers and city engineers before further work would proceed on the site, council unanimously approved issuing the permit.

Before the permit is issued, the developers will have to post a $560,000 bond, which represents $10 per cubic yard for the 56,000 cubic yards of earth expected to be disturbed by the excavation.

Barnette Development also owns a similar multiplex in Logan County.

Plans call for the Lewisburg site to have an eight-screen theater with stadium seating that would accommodate 1,000 patrons.

In other business:

— Council approved the second and final readings of two ordinances, one of which updates the city’s codified ordinances to bring them in line with state code and the other of which updates the city’s building codes.

— Council endorsed the mayor’s appointment of Jennifer Susman and Dylan Boone to the city’s planning commission.

— Fire Chief Wayne Pennington reported that the Lewisburg Volunteer Fire Department answered 65 calls in June, bringing the year-to-date total to 400 calls answered. Of those 400 calls, just 213 — or 53 percent — came from within the city limits, with the balance coming from rural areas of the county.

— Council member Joseph Lutz expressed concern about the proliferation of methamphetamine labs in the region and urged residents and fellow officials to contact their legislators voicing support for a measure that would require a prescription to obtain any medication containing pseudoephedrine, a key ingredient in meth manufacture.

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