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Wednesday, 21 January 2009 16:04

County may meet with attorney on Duke permit dispute

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The attorney representing Jackson County in its legal fight against Duke Energy was expected to meet with county commiseting Tuesday (Jan. 20).

The meeting will fall after The Smoky Mountain News’ deadline, but be sure to check smokymountainnews.com for a Web Extra or any developments in the case.

Jackson County Commissioner Tom Massie said the county’s attorney on the matter, Paul Nolan of Alexandria, Va., was scheduled to meet with the commissioners Tuesday.

In the latest in the legal battle, Duke has sued Jackson County for failing to issue permits the county says are needed to tear down the dam.

Massie said he will have lots of questions for Nolan, including whether the county has a legal basis for withholding the permits from Duke.

Massie has suggested that the county stop fighting Duke in the case and allow destruction of the dam. The county has exhausted all its legal options in the case, Massie has said.

Massie has questioned whether Duke actually needs county permits to tear down the dam.

“First, I am unsure that Duke even needs a permit from Jackson County, as the state of North Carolina and the Army Corps of Engineers are responsible for issuance of any permits for sediment removal within the state’s waterways,” Massie stated in a letter to County Manager Ken Westmoreland dated Dec. 15.

Massie also called the legality of withholding the permits “questionable.”

The county is requiring Duke to remove 70,000 cubic yards of sediment from the river before tearing down the dam but is refusing to issue the permits to do the work.

The county says it does not want to grant the permits until all appeals regarding the dam’s demolition are resolved.

The county wants to save the dam, and Duke wants to tear it down.

Duke says the county’s withholding of the permits is simply a move to delay demolition of the dam.

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