Comments sought about Coolfont plans
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is seeking public comments until June 15 about the impact of the proposed redevelopment of Coolfont on water and natural resources in the Cold Run Valley and Sir Johns areas.
In particular, the DEP is looking at Freeman's plans to expand the existing Lake Siri at Coolfont, and construct a new lake, Lake Prospect, nearly a mile north of Siri on the west side of Cold Run Valley Road.
The Carl Freeman Companies, listed as applicant Berkeley Springs Development LLC, has applied for an Army Corps of Engineers permit for construction and earth-moving activities associated with the lake plans.
The DEP must certify that those activities would not make a significant negative impact on the area before the Army Corps of Engineers can grant the permit, according to Wilma Reip of the DEP Division of Water and Waste Management.
Reip said her agency will take a look at public comments, the site itself and evaluations of the proposed work by the state's Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish & Wildlife.
We're not just going to rubber-stamp it, Reip said.
While a copy of Freeman's full application for Water Quality Certification is only available in the DEP's Charleston office or by a Freedom of Information Request, Reip said members of the public can view the company's Army Corps of Engineers application online.
Two phases of lake work
Based on maps provided in that application, Freeman proposes to do its lake work in phases. In Phase 1, the company would pull an old waste water plant out of service at the north end of Lake Siri and build an embankment to increase the size of the lake pool.
Total stream impacts for Phase 1 are 1,628 feet, which includes stream footage that would be inundated as a result of Lake Siri expansion, the application says.
Phase 1 would also include the construction of a temporary stormwater management pond.
Phase 2 would focus on the construction of Lake Prospect, nearly 1,000 feet west of Cold Run Valley Road closer to Berkeley Springs.
While the maps of the proposed work are unclear as to the total area of the new lake, the Army Corps of Engineers application states that 7.44 acres of wetland would be impacted by the creation of Lake Prospect.
Nearly 9,000 feet, or close to two miles of Sir Johns Run would be affected by the building of a dam to create Lake Prospect.
This is a lot of impact, Reip said of the proposed work.
According to Reip, state and federal agencies often look at ways to minimize the impact of stream and wetland projects. Reip said the environmental agencies will take a hard look at whether the new Freeman resort really needs a second lake, especially one with such a large footprint.
Project plans, prepared for Freeman Companies by Potesta and Associated of Charleston, show the arrangement of various housing clusters across the resort acreage.
Plans also depict public buildings, including a post office, Valley View Restaurant, Mill Building for Arts and Crafts and a large recreation center.
Public comments about the application for a Water Quality Certification should be postmarked by June 15 and addressed to Wilma Reip or Lyle Bennett, WV Department of Environmental Protection, 401 Certification Program, 601 57th Street SE, Charleston, W.Va. 25304.
The full U.S. Army Corps of Engineers application, with maps, is available for review at www.lrp.usace. army.mil/or/or-f/public_notice.htm. Click on Notice 08-21.