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Licking County neighbors raise questions about wetlands ahead of Intel factory

The Ohio EPA is reviewing Intel's wetland mitigation application.

LICKING COUNTY, Ohio — Project Cardinal and Project Dragonfly. They sound like something out of a sci-fi novel. Instead, they are the names surveyors gave to an examination of the Intel site in Licking County.

The projects were designed to understand exactly what's on nearly 900 acres Intel plans to build on.

Everything from plants, to animals, creeks and wetlands.

It's the removal of wetlands that has many people concerned.

"It's kind of wet here and there's a lot of water that comes this way. That's my only concern is the runoff it's got to go somewhere," said William Suver who has lived in the area since 1974.

Intel hired a company, EMH&T, to survey the land.

The company applied to the Ohio EPA to destroy some of the isolated wetlands on the property to make way for Intel fabrication plants and a parking lot.

"If they impact an isolated wetland, they do have to mitigate that which means they must create another wetland at another place within the watershed," said Heidi Griesmer, Deputy Director of Communications Ohio EPA.

10TV obtained a letter showing a company hired by Intel has paid $118,000 to Stream and Wetlands Foundation for wetland mitigation along Clover Valley Road west of Mink Road.

We asked the Ohio EPA about the wetland removal application.

"If they impact an isolated wetland, they do have to mitigate that which means they must create another wetland at another place within the watershed," said Heidi Griesmer, Deputy Director for communications Ohio EPA.

Alice Markley is a master's student at Ohio State University studying environmental resources.

Markley said she has studied Intel's wetland application and found what she says is a problem: no retention ponds on the north side of the property.

"If they remove these wetlands and replace them with impermeable surfaces,  it will potentially cause flooding downstream looking at a map it looks like they are going to flood Mink road," she said.

Markley says aside from wetland protection, there's also a concern about protecting the rural way of life.

"You got a lot of people who are very frustrated and very scared. We plan to can ask intel to be a good neighbor and be respectful to us," she said

According to reports obtained by 10TV, Intel plans to build 2.88 million square feet of occupiable space for two manufacturing chip factories. 

Intel's $20 billion investment is expected to create 3,000 jobs and an estimated 7,000 temporary construction jobs with a projected annual payroll of $405 million.

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