Permits still in play for Cherokee development

GreenLaw in the News

The on-again off-again Sembler Atlanta project in Cherokee County has hit another bump.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers withdrew a permit last week that would have allowed the company to cover over and pipe more than 5,000 feet of headwater springs on the 88-acre site at I-575 and Ga. 20.

The withdrawal came on the heels of a court win for Sembler.

Sembler also applied to the state Department of Natural Resources for a permit to cover the streams.

The Coosa River Basin Initiative, a clean water and environmental group based in Rome, challenged both the state and Corps of Engineers permits. It claims that the covering of the streams would be bad for Canton Creek, home of a fish that is threatened with extinction. And it says allowing the headwaters to be covered would set a bad precedent for development in North Georgia.

A state administrative law judge's ruled earlier this month that the state's issuance of its permit for Sembler to proceed was proper.

The company needs both permits before it can move dirt.

The Corps is reviewing its permit and could reinstate it.

Sembler plans to build a mixed-use development on the site. The first 88 acres will be a shopping center, and another 300 acres will be a mix of homes and offices and a hospital.

The company offered 10 acres of green space as a way to compensate covering the headwater streams.

— Christopher Quinn