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Publix gets federal OK to build in floodplain

The developer planning to build a Publix store at Hendersonville’s southern gateway is a step closer to getting a permit.

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The Federal Emergency Management Agency notified Halvorsen Development and the city of Hendersonville that it had approved a so-called conditional letter of map revision, which gives the contractor the FEMA OK to proceed with the project. Halvorsen still must complete the last few items on the city’s permit checklist, including stormwater treatment and traffic plans. The NCDOT has told Halvorsen that it must include a center turn lane on Greenville Highway, which requires it to buy property.
FEMA requires developers of projects in a floodplain to show that buildings and parking lots would make existing flooding no worse than current conditions. When FEMA rejected the developer’s request for this no-rise permit, Halvorsen applied on Oct. 25 for a Conditional Letter of Map Revision. The revision would reflect that the new store had altered the floodplain, though in a small way that does not pose harm, according to city officials. The letter says that the project would slightly alter the base flood elevation
Tom Vincent, president of Halvorsen Development, could not be reached for comment. He said in an interview in late November that getting a conditional letter of map revision was a typical fallback option that contractors sometimes have to use.
“It’s a normal piece of the process that we need to go through,” he said. “There’s no reason to think that we wouldn’t get that. We’ve done them before on other projects. It just takes a little longer in the process than if we had gotten the no-rise approved. We’ve done many of them.”
Publix confirmed last year that it plans a 49,000-square-foot supermarket on the seven-acre site that had contained the Atha Plaza Shopping Center, El Paso and Tractor Shed restaurants and other buildings. Contractors removed seven large buildings and three smaller sheds from the building site. The developer plans to truck in fill dirt to raise a 60,000-square-foot area two feet above the flood elevation.