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MADISON — A developer who plans to build multiple cabins on Mountaineer Drive off U.S. 119 provided the Boone County Commission with an update on the proposed project during the regular session on Sept. 7 via a teleconference.

The site is near what was once Magic Mart and is now a new development for Boone Memorial Hospital.

Developer Donovan Pearson spoke about the project.

“As it stands right now, water extension from [former] Magic Mart building across the four-lane is still the crutch in the whole system,” he said. “We are sitting on right at $1 million in capital waiting to start construction, but we won’t foolishly start that until we have a guarantee that we’re going to have water to the property.”

According to a presentation Pearson made to the commission in late May, the project would provide lodging and more to visitors of the Hatfield-McCoy Trail System while promoting and supporting local tourism efforts.

Pearson, whose family collectively owns the property, has stated that lack of water access could kill the initiative; he has reached out to the commission for assistance.

According to Pearson, Hatfield-McCoy is on pace to issue 90,000 permits for 2021 after issuing 60,000 a year ago.

“I think there is a unique opportunity here and I’m trying to get some commitment and backing from anyone in a position to say that they are with me on this and that it will benefit all of Boone County on both sides with the Indian Creek resort and this resort on the other side,” he said. “The only issue holding up construction is the water line. That project in itself may get out of hand. The biggest user of this waterline extension will be our resort.”

He added that initially it was believed there would be enough pressure on the line to serve the resort, but now things may have changed.

“It seems now we are looking to branch it out in 10 or 11 directions, and the engineers that they hired to do the work are saying that maybe that won’t be enough and that we’ll have to put a pump station in or that it won’t be enough even with a pump station. This is a $3.5 million resort project and I just need water here,” he said. “The problem is that the biggest backer I have right now is getting the feeling this might be another project that we talk about and everyone gets hyped about and it doesn’t happen.”

Pearson’s initial estimate for the water extension with a directional drilling method was $250,000; with the additional engineering and environmental costs, it would be approximately a $400,000 project.

Branching the project out to include four residences and three businesses — plus providing access for further extension — could make it a $1 million water project, according to Pearson.

“We would freely give up a spot of land and not charge for it to house a water tank, and they can have it to make this thing go,” he said.

According to Pearson, a Critical Needs Grant could pay up to $800,000 toward a project to get water to residents, but the Boone County Commission would be responsible for any overage on the project.

“We don’t have the money to put the water line in and do the resort,” Pearson concluded.

Commission President Craig Bratcher suggested a phased project.

“If doing something like that could be done [in phases] it would be great,” he said. “Right now we [commission] need more information, I believe.”

Pearson expressed that if the residents and three businesses were all included, engineers had expressed a concern for a lack of water and pressure to supply the demand.

Pearson and Bratcher were set to attend a meeting with engineers to discuss the possibilities and the challenges facing the potential water project.

The Boone County Commission meets on the first Tuesday of each month at 3:30 p.m., the third Tuesday of each month at 3:30 p.m. and the last Tuesday of each month at 5 p.m. at the Boone County Courthouse Annex, third floor. They can be reached at 304-369-7303.

Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at 304-307-2401.

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