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Hartselle Enquirer

Wetlands pose problem at new high school location

By By Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
The city of Hartselle has run into another sticky situation with respect to the location of a new Hartselle High School.
The Bethel Road school site has13 acres of wetlands running diagonally from north to south across the 55-acre tract and the cost to purchase an equal amount of acreage from a mitigation bank would cost the city as much at $600,000, according to Stuart A. Blackwell, a biologist with the architectural firm of Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood.
Blackwell reviewed the wetlands finding with school board members at their regular meeting Monday night, explaining what constitutes a wetland in the eyes of the U.S. Corps of Engineers, which has jurisdiction over such sites.
The Corps of Engineers requires mitigation on any work done on a wetland property. Mitigation, designed to make the impact on wetlands less severe, can include restoration, enhancements or creating other uses for the property.
Blackwell said buying wetland credits is not the only way to deal with a wetlands loss.
Blackwell said the water feature would have the look of a natural stream and offer educational opportunities to students.
Board member Dr. James Joy questioned if the water featured could be maintained with a mower. He was told by Blackwell it would not be feasible because the bed and banks of the stream would be landscaped with various flowering plants.
Another possibility would be purchasing 13 acres of wetlands in another area.

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