NC OKs Construction of Piedmont Triad FedEx Cargo Hub

Fri October 10, 2003 - Southeast Edition

RALEIGH, NC (AP) North Carolina regulators cleared plans by air carrier FedEx to build a cargo hub at Piedmont Triad International Airport, approving a final water quality permit for the project.

The company needs just one final federal environmental permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers before it can begin construction of the $300-million, cargo-sorting hub.

Memphis, TN-based FedEx hopes to open the facility by 2009.

Project opponents, who say the hub will lead to both pollution and unwanted noise in nearby neighborhoods, vowed to continue to fight the project.

“I think the whole thing is wrong, it should not be done,” said Greensboro Attorney David Clark, who represents homeowners near the site. “My feeling is that my clients will certainly want to take whatever further legal action is necessary to try to stop it. I think it is wrong administratively, and I think it is wrong on the merits.”

Clark has already filed legal action asking a state administrative law judge to block variances to environmental standards approved by state regulators.

A hearing on the case is scheduled for December.

Mark Warren, who heads a group of opponents called Alliance for Legal Action, said the organization would challenge the final Corps of Engineers permit, once it is issued, in federal court.

A federal appeals court dealt his group a blow earlier this summer, refusing to order further environmental reviews.

Warren said his group remained optimistic it could stop the project, despite the recent action. State regulators issued a final air permit for the project, in early August.

“I think it is going to be difficult given the political pressure,” he said.

The project would include a new, 9,000-ft. runway to parallel the airport’s existing main runway.

Hub supporters said it would create jobs and provide a needed boost to the area’s economy. FedEx has pledged to hire 1,500 people when the overnight sorting facility is fully operational.

Pam Roberson, a spokeswoman for FedEx, said the company is delighted that the project is continuing to move forward.

“FedEx is pleased with the progress that is being made on these various permits, and we are optimistic that whatever approvals and permits that are outstanding will be forthcoming,” she said.

The permit includes more than 20 conditions the company must meet to remain in compliance with state water standards. They include taking measures to address erosion control, wetland mitigation, stormwater treatment and stream protections.