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Trees cleared at Centerville site before bat population returns

A company building a 360-unit housing development in Centerville has cleared about 20 acres of trees for the project, work it needed to finish this month because of rules regarding a bat.

Hallmark Campus Communities is developer of the Gateway Lofts – a multi-family development along East Alex-Bell Road near Chardonnay Drive.

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It cleared approximately 20 acres of forest between East Alex Bell Road and I-675, with about 15 acres of woodlands included in that, according to Maureen Hodgson, community resources coordinator for the city of Centerville.

Hallmark officials said the tree clearing on the planned apartment complex needed to be completed by early April due to requirements by the Army Corps of Engineers to mitigate the impact on the Indiana bat and Northern long-eared bat populations that are present in the development area. The bats traditionally settle into the area after April for mating, so trees could not be cut down after then.

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According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, the Northern long-eared bat and Indiana bat are federally listed as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act.

A spokesman for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said the bats made the endangered species list due to white-nose syndrome, which is a fatal fungus that wakes up bats during winter, when there are no insects to consume.

Will Kirk, who is the project manager for the development, said the plan for Gateway includes 14 walk-up apartment buildings that will include 256 one-bedroom units and 104 two-bedroom units.

Apartment buildings will be either two or three-stories, depending on their location in the development. A clubhouse with a swimming pool is to be located near the Alex-Bell entrance. A secondary entrance to Gateway will be from Loop Road at Versailles Drive.

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