Regions Southwest Virginia

Grant would be utilized to create homesites

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Duane Miller says Project Homestead "let[s] the rest of the world know
what we have here." Photo by Tim Cox

A regional industrial development authority is seeking federal funds to redevelop abandoned mine land.

The newly formed Lonesome Pine Regional Industrial Facilities Authority has applied for a $1.6 million federal grant that would fund the first phase of the Appalachian Homestead project. The project aims to convert about 165 acres of abandoned mine property.

“If successful, this type of project could be replicated elsewhere on abandoned mine land throughout the region, utilizing both public and private resources,” says Joe Fawbush, chairman of the authority.

The initial funds would be used for remediation of the mine land and development of 5-acre homesites that will be available to qualified applicants. The first stage “will also include construction of three model/demonstration homes. Phase I may also contain common properties for recreation, agriculture, etc.,” says Fawbush.

The authority also is investigating the possibility of instituting a land grant entity. “This approach could potentially increase public/private partnerships and access to other funding opportunities. This would certainly serve as an innovative approach that, if successful, could be replicated throughout the Coalfield region,” says Fawbush. 

The project also includes a test project on the benefits and cost savings from the development of small-scale solar power projects.

In addition to its federal grant application, the authority has received funds from the LENOWISCO Planning District Commission to help with infrastructure development design.

“We fully intend to look at other state and federal funding opportunities as we develop the Project Homestead concept more,” says Fawbush.

The authority also has an application that has been recommended and sent to the U.S. Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement for approval of a 200-acre regional industrial park.

“The level of cooperation between all of the Lonesome Pine Regional Industrial Facilities Authority members localities (counties of Lee, Scott, Wise and Dickenson and the city of Norton) has played an invaluable role in their success to secure funds for innovative, regional focused projects,” says Del. Terry Kilgore (R-Gate City).

The authority hopes to begin abandoned mine land remediation and site development and planning in late spring 2020 with construction hopefully beginning in mid-summer 2020. 

“Project Homestead truly is just one of the approaches/examples that leaders in Southwest Virginia are using to think ‘outside of the box’ to let the rest of the world know what we have here,” says Duane Miller, executive director of the  LENOWISCO Planning District Commission.

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