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2010-12-02 digital edition

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2010-12-02 / General Stories

Community Advisory Panel To Alcoa

Advisory Group Asks about Land Sale Possibility

There were more questions than answers when the Community Advisory Panel to Alcoa (Rockdale Operations) had its first opportunity to meet with Alcoa representatives about the company’s recently announced letter of intent with Velocita Holdings to sell land other than the ongoing mining reclamation. Alcoa’s Jim Hodson explained that a nonbinding letter of intent allows Velocita to conduct due diligence on the site. The two companies may talk and negotiate terms, but a confidentiality agreement prevents either party from answering specific questions. CAPARO will compile the unanswered questions to ensure that Alcoa knows the kind of curiosity and concerns residents have.

Due diligence is important in sales of industrial land because the new owner becomes liable for the site. Thus Velocita needs time to understand how the land has been used. They will also want to understand the tax implications of purchasing land, which has had various exemptions. Such research will take several months, as would reaching any sales agreement. Hodson said it may well be later in 2011 before any final decisions are made.

Members were interested in the location of the 11,600 acres. No boundaries may be provided while sale is being discussed, but the land is all in Milam County, it all belongs to Alcoa, and it is not reclaimed mine land. Members asked if Alcoa would retain water rights and/or mineral rights for the property.

Velocita’s plans for the land were of high interest, with most having heard that a business park, residences, and higher education facilities are being considered as is a possible waste-to-energy facility. Support for creating a public park is a recurring interest of CAPARO community members. Members and visitors were also interested in job growth, the potential for housing development in the surrounding towns, and possible population increases.

Hodson confirmed that, if the sale takes place, Alcoa would become a tenant on the site, operating the atomizer and keeping the smelter maintained so it could be restarted if the economics become favorable.

The meeting also included the annual report on emissions, which have declined because only the atomizer is operating. Alcoa’s Terry Blodgett fielded numerous questions when he reported that Alcoa will be capping and closing a landfill, replacing some seals on Alcoa Lake Treatment System flood gates, and developing an emergency action plan required by new state dam safety regulations.

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