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Wetlands issue prompts Ashley Furniture to delay expansion of N.C. plant

ADVANCE, N.C. — An expansion of Ashley Furniture's new distribution center here will be delayed for another year due to the discovery of four acres of wetlands at the site, the Winston-Salem Journal reported.

Bill Coslo, an attorney representing Ashley, was not immediately available for comment this morning but told the Journal, "This is a serious delay, and is causing us to lose business opportunities and is adding substantially to the cost of doing business."

He said the extra work involved in filing a new application with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is costing about $1 million in engineering fees.

Ashley has converted a 418,000-square-foot building that was a former R.J. Reynolds Tobacco plant into a distribution center, which has created 120 new jobs. It planned later to add about 507,000 square feet to the distribution center and also planned to add a 400,000-square-foot upholstery plant and a 350,000-square-foot case goods plant.

The project, which was announced in April 2012, was expected to result in 550 new jobs in about five years.

The Journal reported that Ashley's construction plans were halted a few months ago when officials found four acres of wetlands on the 320-acre site the company purchased for $10.44 million from Jeff Schwartz, an Asheboro, N.C., businessman. The total site is 680 acres, including a 360-acre site the Davie County Economic Development Commission gave to the company.

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