Duke, county at odds over permits

Duke Energy, which sued Jackson County two weeks ago for failing to issue county permits to tear down the Dillsboro dam, says it may not even need the contested permits.

But Jackson County Manager Ken Westmoreland and County Planner Linda Cable are adamant that Duke indeed needs the county permits.

Even though Duke doesn’t believe it needs the county permits it has applied for them anyway and doesn’t plan to go forward without them.

Duke is seeking permits to dredge the sediment out of the Tuckasegee River that has backlogged behind the Dillsboro dam. The state is requiring Duke to remove 70,000 cubic yards of sediment before tearing down the dam to prevent the sediment from rushing downstream and causing environmental problems.

Cable said Duke needs a Land Development Compliance Permit and the Floodplain Development Permit, but the county thus far has refused to grant them until the county’s legal appeals over tearing down the dam are resolved.

Duke believes the county is simply attempting to delay the demolition of the dam because the county wants to save it. Duke has obtained a state permit to dredge the river, raising the question of whether a county permit is also required.

“While the state permit and the local permits are not identical, we question whether such local permits are needed and have not received any explanation for the basis of the county’s withholding them,” said Duke Business Relations Manager Fred Alexander.

County Manger Ken Westmoreland admitted that it is “questionable” whether Duke needs the county Floodplain Permit but said the Land Development Compliance Permit is definitely required.

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