Busch Gardens gets permission for expansion in Italy section


Busch Gardens received permission to encroach on a resource protection buffer area in order to build an expansion to the Italy section of the park Wednesday.

Because of the scale of the proposed expansion, encroachment is considered unavoidable. The project is anticipated to permanently encroach on 2,961 square feet of the landward resource protection area buffer and 1,564 square feet of the seaward buffer, watershed planner Trevor Long said.

The present Chesapeake Bay Board members voted unanimously to approve the exemption. Board member William Apperson wasn’t present at the meeting. No county residents spoke during the public hearing held at the meeting.

The public notice for the application’s public hearing refers to the expansion as a building in the Italy section of the park. A Busch Gardens spokesman declined to comment further on the nature of the building.

It is proposed that 90 native trees and 90 native shrubs be planted to mitigate the effects of the project, according to a staff report.

Staff recommended the permit be approved pending the acquisition of necessary local, state and federal permits, as well as a mitigation plan and $10,000 surety in a form the county attorney’s office finds acceptable. The permit is void if the project doesn’t start by Oct. 10, 2019, Long said.

David Gussman noted the proximity of the Colonial Pipeline to the project area, inquiring whether that would be taken into consideration as the construction is conducted.

“They’re very cautious of their line and we are too,” said Suzy Cheely, Busch Garden's director of design and engineering.

The exemption follows a height wavier OK’d by the Board of Supervisors in June. That wavier allows Busch Gardens to construct an attraction not to exceed 115 feet above finished grade or 155 feet above sea level. Busch Gardens was similarly quiet on details for that project. The structure would be located in the Ireland section of the park near the Griffon roller coaster.

Jacobs can be reached by phone at 757-298-6007.

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