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Colonial Beach rescue station on hold

A contractor received a building permit from Colonial Beach late Friday to resume renovations to the town’s volunteer rescue squad station.

But Trinity Building Co. LLC will not begin work immediately because Westmoreland County officials have intervened in the project.

When interior work started a few weeks ago on the flood-prone squad station, an exterior wall of the building was removed before Trinity’s owner Steve Cirbee had obtained a building permit from the town.

Trinity Building was hired to add a 17- by 40-foot area for office space, a welcome area, a conference room and a crew lounge.

That space will serve as a temporary workplace for the rescue squad to use until it can find property for a new station.

Rescue Squad Chief Wesley Melson said last week that the workers “got ahead of the contractor” on Aug. 15, and took down an exterior wall.

Town building official Dexter Monroe put a stop-work order on the building two days after the wall was removed because of issues with the permit application submitted by Cirbee.

The main issue is over how high the new portion of the building must be raised to be in compliance with floodplain regulations in the Potomac River town.

Cirbee was able to provide the proper documentation to the town’s building department Friday, and the permit was granted.

The new portion of the building will be raised 16 inches above the floodplain levels, which is 4 inches higher than what is required.

The new town permit, however, does not mean construction will be restarted right away.

Melson said Westmoreland County has asked them to hold off on the addition.

“Obviously repairing a building in a flood zone is not optimal,” he said.

Melson said county officials want to see if there is an alternative location for the station, instead of fixing the flood-prone building.

However, that property could be outside the town limits.

Melson said his goal is to keep the squad in Colonial Beach, where it’s been since 1951.

The rescue squad, with the help of Trinity Building and a local Realtor, spent more than three years searching for the right property in town for its station.

Any property they found, he said, presented different issues from cost to zoning.

The renovations to the Dennison Street station, which were only a “Band–Aid” for the rescue squad, were only supposed to take six months. Now, the project is in limbo.

The squad’s board of directors will meet this week to discuss what’s next for the construction plans.

Melson said they will be working to temporarily seal off the exposed wall of the building until the work can be finished.

Regina Weiss 540/374-5444