Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Controversy continues over proposed blasting

by Joey Rinaldi

A new student apartment complex could be going up soon despite a large response from the community against it. The proposed Summit at Coates Run would be a 257-unit building with 878 beds. It will be built on the Richland Avenue hillside, right across from University Courtyard apartments.

Many residents don’t seem to have a problem with the new apartments themselves, but worry that the development company wants to use explosives in order to flatten and lower the hillside. They believe there could be structural damage to homes from the blasting as well as utility problems.

Greenbriar Drive resident Don Lambert pleads his case against the Coates Run project.

Will Chandler owns Athens Realty, which is located at 353 Richland Avenue, right below the hilltop where the new apartments will be built. He’s concerned about the increase in traffic on an already busy street. He says the city may even have to invest in a new traffic signal, if the access road to Coates Run is right across from University Courtyard’s.

Edwards Communities of Columbus is the developer proposing to build the new complex. The company requested a blasting permit from the city back in December so they could use explosives to break up sandstone. Former Mayor Ric Abel granted the permit, but it has since expired.

Current Mayor Paul Wiehl tells Athens MidDay that the contractor Edwards has hired does have a state blasting permit, but the mayor believes that Edwards Communities still needs a permit from the city to blast. He added that if blasting begins without a permit, he will order it to stop. As for a new blasting permit, the mayor says he might grant one but under the condition that the burden of proof be on the developer. This means that Edwards Communities would have to prove that it did not cause any damage by blasting.

Mayor Wiehl explains the conditions that could be set for a new blasting permit.

There is still no word on when this proposed blasting may start or when a new permit could be issued. The current and former Athens city law directors, Pat Lang and Garry Hunter, were unavailable for comment to Athens MidDay.

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