Klausner Holding USA’s plans to construct a large lumber mill in Rowesville are taking a little longer to come to fruition than elsewhere, but officials say the project is still under development.

Orangeburg County Development Commission Executive Director Gregg Robinson hopes that all the needed paperwork will be complete by the middle of summer, with new construction and groundbreaking beginning as early as the fourth quarter of 2013 or the first quarter of 2014.

“We still have a number of agreements that still have to be executed,” Robinson said. “Everybody is in agreement verbally with what we have agreed to in order to win the project. We are waiting to execute everything in writing.”

The German company is considering placing a lumber mill on approximately 248 acres at 3374 Rowesville Road, between Rowesville and Orangeburg. The mill is projected to bring more than 300 new jobs to the area.

Robinson, though declining to provide details, did say the company is still working with the South Carolina Department of Commerce and the State Ports Authority.

“We are doing all the necessary steps,” he said. “It has to do with commitments from the company and commitments from the various agencies.”

The Development Commission is talking with Klausner on a daily basis, Robinson said.

The company also plans to construct sawmills in North Carolina and Florida, with both states reporting the company’s plans are moving forward.

“They (Florida and Georgia) did not have the challenges we had,” Robinson said.

He said part of the local delay stems from a public hearing held for the plant’s air quality permit application through the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Critics have questioned the proposed mill’s impact on the state’s forests and whether the resources are available to support such a large mill. Supporters said the mill would bring much-needed competition to the local market.

DHEC approved the air quality permit for Klausner on Jan. 3, noting the company has already demonstrated its ability to comply with state and federal air quality regulations.

The company is planning to produce dried lumber and by-products, such as bark, wood chips, sawdust and dry shavings. The facility could have a maximum annual production of 700 million board-feet per year.

 Contact the writer: gzaleski@timesanddemocrat.com or 803-533-5551.

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