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Duke accuses Jackson of illegally withholding dam permits

A lawyer for Duke Energy told the Jackson County commissioners on Monday that if the county continues to hold up permits necessary for removal of the Dillsboro dam that “further legal action” will be taken.

Duke wants to tear down the dam, but the county wants the dam to stay. Before the dam is demolished the backlogged sediment behind the dam must be dredged to prevent it from rushing downstream when the dam is removed.

The dredging is a mandatory condition of state and federal permits allowing dam removal — if Duke doesn’t dredge, it can’t tear down the dam. But in order to dredge, Duke has to get two permits from the county: a floodplain development permit and a land development compliance permit.

Duke says the county is withholding those permits to keep it from dredging the sediment, and in turn from tearing down the dam.

“If the permits are not issued within 30 days following the date of this letter (Nov. 25), Duke Energy Carolinas will have no alternative but to take further legal action,” a letter from Duke’s attorney, Molly L. McIntosh, to county Planning Director Linda Cable states.

The letter states, “For your office to withhold issuance of the permits Duke Energy Carolinas has applied for and to which it is entitled is both unjustified and illegal.”

The attorney read the letter to the county commissioners on Monday night. The commissioners had no response.

The county has said it does not want to issue any permits related to dam removal until appeals to litigation involving the Dillsboro dam are resolved. Duke says the county has already lost its appeal.

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