State and local officials plan to visit as soon as possible each of 23 sites within the Hinkson Creek watershed where construction projects are on hold while they await land-disturbance permits.
The Missouri Department of Natural Resources is sitting on the permits out of fear the projects could further pollute Hinkson Creek, which is on the EPA’s list of impaired water bodies. DNR representatives said Friday they plan to visit each site to determine how construction can begin without damaging the creek. Columbia officials will join in the tour.
Meanwhile, DNR representatives told city officials in a meeting Thursday that they’re considering new standards that could restrict development in the Hinkson watershed.
Assistant City Manager Bill Watkins said he was surprised by the news that the DNR is considering new standards and by the agency’s refusal to elaborate on what the standards might be.
“That’s a really big unknown, and that’s the main concern (for the city),” Watkins said.
Watkins said the city hopes to work with the DNR over the next few weeks to clear up the matter so projects can move forward on schedule.
“We owe it to the people whose projects are in limbo,” he said.
DNR spokeswoman Connie Patterson told the Missourian the problem should be solved within a few weeks.
“This is not something that’s going to take months,” she said. “We will take a look at what kinds of best management practices will be best suited for each site.
“We’re going to make this a priority. As long as we can ensure the environmental protection as much as possible, we’re obligated to grant the permit.”
Projects on hold include the Wal-Mart Supercenter at Grindstone Parkway, Bass Pro Shops at Highway 63 and Vandiver Drive, an expansion and renovation of the Sam’s Club at Broadway Marketplace and a Boone County reconstruction of Olivet Road.
Local developers don’t seem overly worried by the delay.
Bass Pro Shops spokesman Martin MacDonald said Thursday that his company plans to make the store at Highway 63 and Vandiver Drive a model for other developments in the Hinkson Creek watershed.
Attorney Craig Van Matre, representing Wal-Mart developer Aspen Acquisitions, predicted a permit for Wal-Mart will be granted in a week or so. He conceded, however, that he’s a bit concerned.
“I don’t care how many people look at (the Wal-Mart plans), as long as they do it quickly,” he said. “If a change in plans is mandated, it could be a source of great consternation.”