How to comment

The public has 15 days from June 30 to submit comments about Fruit of the Loom's wetlands request to the Corps of Engineers; and 30 days to send comments to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control.

Written comments should be mailed to: the Army Corps, 69A Hagood Ave., Charleston, SC, 29403-5107; or DHEC's Office of Environmental Quality Control, 2600 Bull St., Columbia, SC, 29201.

The wetlands are adjacent to Kelly Branch, a tributary of Cypress Swamp and the Ashley River. Fruit of the Loom is proposing to offset loss of the wetlands by purchasing credits from the Congaree-Carton Mitigation Bank.

Apparel giant Fruit of the Loom is looking to go up a few sizes by expanding its Berkeley County warehouse operation.

The company has filed plans with environmental regulators to nearly double its Palmetto Distribution Center near Summerville by adding on 402,000 square feet of space and more parking.

The existing building measures 350,000 square feet and was designed with "knock-out walls and other structural features to accommodate future expansion," the company said in a request Monday to fill about 5.6 acres of wetlands on its property.

The notice with the Army Corps of Engineers gives the public up to 30 days to comment on the proposal. The company's hiring plans and other details were not available Monday.

The expansion would give Fruit of the Loom one of the largest distribution centers in the Charleston region.

Gene Butler, Berkeley County's economic development director, said his office has "had some conversations" with the Bowling Green, Ky.-based apparel company about incentives tied to its Summerville project.

"We always like expansions," he said Monday.

Butler declined to elaborate about the company's plans until after Fruit of the Loom is ready to formally announce the new addition.

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. bought the iconic maker of T-shirts, boxers, briefs and other casual garments in 2002.

Through its Union Underwear Co. Inc. unit, Fruit of the Loom acquired about 50 acres along Interstate 26, between Business Park and Old Dairy roads near Jedburg, in 2005. It bought the land after looking at sites in every major port city in the Southeast.

The company completed the Summerville distribution center in 2006, saying it planned to hire up to 200 workers and would look for expansion opportunities

The warehouse was built to handle imported garments for "just-in-time" delivery to North American customers, which at the time included household names such as Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target. It also was set up to export goods overseas.

Contact John McDermott at 937-5572.