Snowshoe and eminent domain......
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August 14, 2006
Member since 03/16/2006 🔗
68 posts
RogerZ and bawalker will love this one-

Snowshoe Sewer Plant and eminent domain...the painful price of growth

This article briefly discusses what has been brewing for about the last two years. Snowshoe and the county are trying to use eminent domain to take away a family's land and pop a sewer plant on it. If memory serves me correctly, the fourth generation of family still resides on the property. They also have a bed and breakfast and country store on the property- imagine what a sewer plant will do to THEIR family economy and land values.

This family spent tons of time and cash last year sending out letters to all Snowshoe property owners, WV politicians, and just about every resident in Pocahontas County in order to gain support in stopping the sewer encroachment on their land. The family also says the sewer plant is in a flood plain near one of the rivers- what a potential mess that could be. Several different sites were reviewed and for whatever reason they chose this one. Thousands of acres of undeveloped land in them thar hills and they want to destroy one family's land.

I am a SS property owner and huge fan of the resort, but they seem way off base on this one. It also looks like our tax dollars arent going to cover the project as the HOA's are looking to jack up the HOA fees yet again as Snowshoe is increasing water and sewer rates to pay for the project.

http://www.spocnews.com/index.php?action...om41940a897e943
Roger Z
August 15, 2006
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
If the state Supreme Court rules in favor of using eminent domain for this facility, Brad's fight to stop the dams in Wardensville will get a whole lot tougher.
Clay
August 15, 2006
Member since 04/11/2006 🔗
555 posts
Have they agreed to hear the case? I would be surprised since the US Supreme Court ruled a year or two ago that local government can take whatever they want if it's for the "betterment" of the community. In that case, if I remember right, they said a NH local government could take a family farm so that a hotel (or was it a shopping mall?)could be built so as to increase the tax base.

Unfortunately, the subsequent petition drive to get David Souter's house taken in the same way failed.

Clay
Roger Z
August 15, 2006
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
That's not what the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year. Actually, the only thing the U.S. Supreme Court did last year was reaffirm a ruling they made in 1952, which was that the Takings Clause of the U.S. Constitution can be used for both public "use" (the strict interpretation- land can only be taken if the federal government will hold it, basically) and public purpose (a much looser definition that so long as there is public benefit, eminent domain can be used). The Supreme Court made very explicit in its ruling that states were free to adopt a stricter interpretation if they so chose (or if the state constitution so mandated).

I'm frankly surprised at the amount of misinterpretation out there about the Supreme Court ruling. A week after the ruling my step-dad told me that the government was now free to take his house for pennies, and I heard similar interpretations from dozens of people up and down the income, class, race, intellectual etc. spectrums. Now, I don't like the "public purpose" definition and would like to see states tighten down significantly, but let's be clear about what was ruled.

The problem that the State Supreme Court faces is determing whether a) West Virginia law currently permits "public purpose" takings (which it probably does) and b) whether there is a "public purpose" in this particular taking. Frankly, public purpose is broad but I don't see how this can fall under that definition- the sole beneficiary as has practically been admitted by the litigant is... the litigant. This is not a sewer system for the town. It is specifically for a resort and its patrons. The taking is being contemplated to balance off Snowshoe's already bad behavior (in terms of building an insufficient sewage system on its own site). This would be the equivalent of the power plant in Alexandria getting to use eminent domain to seize private property around it in order to mitigate the impact of its pollution. In other words, it'd say that you could use eminent domain for the "public purpose" of remedying your own negative externality. That would be, to put it mildly, quite perverse, and would provide no incentive for businesses to engage in environmentally or infrastructurally sound investments.

So if the Supreme Court says that there is a public purpose that justifies the taking, then short of a new state law Brad is going to be facing a HUGE uphill fight to stop those dams. The dams, after all, ostensibly have the purpose of flood control for Moorefield, which is a far greater "public purpose" then dealing with a bunch of condo owner's crap (literally).
DCSki Sponsor: Canaan Valley Resort
Clay
August 15, 2006
Member since 04/11/2006 🔗
555 posts
Actually, you just said what I said in a different way - The state can take your property if they feel it is for "the common good" (which could mean an increase in the tax base if, for example, SS could add more condos because of a better sewage system).

Also, while we're being clear, I will just point out that I never said anything about "pennies on the dollar".

Here is WV's eminent domain statute.

I'm not a lawyer, but I read the phrase "including the purpose of promoting, developing and advancing the business prosperity and economic welfare of the county" as being broad enough to cover this situation. However farther down, it says "are performing essential public purposes; that the performance of such essential public purposes". The lawyers may argue that the sewage plant is not an essential public purpose...

Clay
KevR
August 16, 2006
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
So snowshoe is actually saying the time and energy & money spent in court on this one (and in "court" of public opinion), is ACTUALLY CHEAPER than just buying someone's property at a reasonable market price that IS WILLING to sell to them for this purpose?

Now I AM HOPING the new intrawest owners do step in and knock some sense into their head.
DWW
August 16, 2006
Member since 03/11/2004 🔗
144 posts
Snowshoe wanted to build the sewage treatment center on it's own property several years ago. Non-Snowshoe developers in the area took that notion to court and forced it into the public arena (because they wanted a piece of the action). Then the PSC had to find a more neutral location so that the system could service communities outside Snowshoe (whether they wanted it or not). Six locations were evaluated including public land and private land. Because of the centralized location requirement (in order to serve the public good beyond SS) and the tricky karst geography in the area (not to mention the lack of flat land) the Sharp farm became the target. The other requirement is that the ultimate rate needs to be affordable for the average homeowner. Most of the other locations evaluated would increase costs significantly due to the need for bridges, longer distances to run lines, etc. It's not as simple as buying land from a willing seller (of flat, non-flood-plain, non-karst, centrally located) land. In fact, the owner of the Sharp Farm land in question was a willing seller early on until the rest of the family jumped in.
fb
August 17, 2006
Member since 03/16/2006 🔗
68 posts
DWW is right, the surrounding community and developments are also included on the system whether they like it or not. the lawyers may spin this as benefiting the overall community in order to get the plant.
sharp1
September 20, 2006
Member since 09/19/2006 🔗
14 posts
Thank you flanaryb for the post on the Snowshoe Sewer Project. DWW left a post that is complete hogwash. If you will allow me.

"Snowshoe wanted to build the sewage treatment center on it's own property several years ago"

This SPIN comes right out of the mouth of Snowshoe execs and project planners. Snowshoe did want to build a sewage treatment plant on its own property, but a very important part of the story is not addressed in this definitive statement. Although Snowshoe, in 2003, was in the middle of a lawsuit filed by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection for hundreds of violations of their NPDES discharge permits with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fines, they (incredibly) filed an application for permission to build a plant at the base of the mountain to serve their new valley development only; Hawthorne! This plant had nothing to do with solving the problems of failing infrastructure and failing treatment plants at Silvercreek and Snowshoe Village on top of the mountain.

Snowshoe requested the grand amount of 90,000 gallons per day (GPD) wasteload allocation, a tiny amount equivalent to a teaspoon into the river. In the application, Snowshoe claimed 90% of that allocation for their Hawthorne Village and brokered the remaining 10% to a private entity (one family). If Hawthorne Village exceeded expectations of growth, Snowshoe even reserved the right to take the remaining 10%.

Why a request for such a tiny wasteload allocation? Could it be that by asking for a small allocation, Snowshoe could claim need for all of it and not be required to share with those pesky neighbors as all utilities are 'encouraged' to do by the state?

"Non-Snowshoe developers in the area took that notion to court and forced it into the public arena (because they wanted a piece of the action)."

Snowshoe's application for the tiny Hawthorne plant was presented to the West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC). About a dozen intervenors filed protests for the Hawthorne plant. Approximately half did not show up for the PSC hearing and were dismissed. Several of the remaining intervenors were residents at Snowshoe Village at the top of the mountain. Their argument was that they should not be forced to pay for a new treatment plant at the bottom of the mountain (Hawthorne) that would not solve the mess up at the top of the mountain (Silvercreek Village and Snowshoe Village). The few intervenors left over were neighboring developers using the incorrect or mistaken premise that Snowshoe was taking all of the available wasteload allocation in the area by being the first to ask for it and then claiming all of it.

"Then the PSC had to find a more neutral location so that the system could service communities outside Snowshoe (whether they wanted it or not)."

The PSC had to do nothing of the kind. Why? Because the premise of these intervenors was false. In fact, the DEP sent letters to Snowshoe offering them up to one million GPD wasteload allocation. This would have enabled Snowshoe to build a plant large enough to solve the mess at the top of the mountain, provide service to their new Hawthorne development at the base of the mountain, and SHARE with their neighbors. Curiously, Snowshoe withdrew their application to build the Hawthorne plant and presently pumps the sewage out of the ground and hauls it away.

The argument of those handful of intervening developers that wasteload allocation was being taken, all, by Snowshoe since they asked 'first' is hogwash. Even if Snowshoe managed to slide by with putting a treatment plant to serve only their Hawthorne community at the base of the mountain, they would only have been taking 90,000 GPD out of an available one million GPD! Could it be the real concern of the developers was that they might have to finance the planning, construction and operation of their own treatment plant?

Using the myth that Snowshoe tried to build their own plant (the mythmakers hoping no one will delve too deeply into that statement, the connotation being that Snowshoe actually endeavored to build a plant and fix its aging and inadequate infrastructure to solve all of its problems plus share with its neighbors to boot!) somehow the unsuspecting residents of the valley were 'TOLD' they had asked for a 'regional' sewer project. No one asked for a regional plant. Neighboring developers just wanted a piece of the (treatment plant) pie. Snowshoe solved that problem by simply not building ANY plant.

"Six locations were evaluated including public land and private land. Because of the centralized location requirement (in order to serve the public good beyond SS) and the tricky karst geography in the area (not to mention the lack of flat land) the Sharp farm became the target"

Does DWW have it wrong? No. To have something 'wrong' means that an individual is mistaken. There are so many hidden facts in the 'six locations were evaluated, including public land.." DWW fails to mention that the application for this project (Facilities Plan) included not one public land. In fact, the engineer responsible for choosing the treatment site location, during sworn deposition testimony, said she never looked at public land, assuming that one agency of government could not condemn the land of another. She also testified that the assumed location of the sewer treatment plant would be at the bottom of the drainage basin on the Elk River. Another sworn fact?..that the site at the Elk River was not chosen because of an 'agreement' between the head of the project and a powerful landowner.

The Sharp farm site is NOT a centralized location. Snowshoe is smack dab in the middle of the planned four-phase project. The Sharp farm site is almost at the far west end of the proposed project.

How does all of this site 'evaluation' business stack up? Projects such as this are financed (by the way, Intrawest pays not a dime for this project. Instead, the taxpayers are financing the construction, the repairs to failing infrastructure and the DEP mandated cleanup of their utilities at the top of the mountain) in phases. This project has four ostensible phases. Phase 1 would be financed up to a certain level where the ratepayers would pay the debt down to a point where more money could be released to build the next phase and so on. Certain requirements from one funding agency calls for the evaluation of three sites with the option of 'no site'. Another requirement is for the most 'cost effective' decisions. (project officials will swear to anyone who will listen that this means the cheapest. This concept is very important as you read further. Remember, we must have the cheapest site) Here is where it gets very 'interesting'.

Back to Phase 1. Phase 1 is a huge geographic area. It includes Snowshoe with almost 2000 customers (who already have a sewer plant) and goes all the way down a bucolic valley along Scenic Route 55/219 five miles down to the Sharp farm to add a grand total of about 20 new customers who are not already served by Snowshoe or state sanctioned package plant at the base of the mountain. One might ask if it would not make more sense to add service to Slatyfork as needed and pump the sewage to Snowshoe. Project leaders say they couldn't possibly do that. "It is very dangerous to pump sewage uphill!" They used this excuse for months in an effort to thwart growing concern over their decision. Lo and behold, we find that the 'gravity' system which they claimed in the original Facilities Plan (to the PSC) as the reason for picking the Sharp farm site.....is not a gravity system at all! How can that be? The addition of Silvercreek. You see, Silvercreek was not to be part of this 'regional project'. In fact, their application made a blanket statement about the fact that Silvercreek was in a completely different watershed and, therefore, will not be part of the project. Curiously, Silvercreek was added (rumor has it against their wishes) months into the project. Why is that important? Because it means pumps. Pumps? Yes, pumps. To do what? To pump the raw sewage UPHILL - up and over Cheat Mountain at great additional cost. What is the big deal about the additional cost? Curiously, this is the reason the project officials say they could not possibly move the plant because they say it would mean, get this, adding pipes into an area not previously planned. (As Yogi said, deja vu all over again) But, no - you say there are more pumps? Yes. A $400,000.00 pump has to be installed about 4 1/2 mile down Scenic Route 55/219 to get over two ridges. Well that's got to be done, right? Guess how many additional customers will be served by that $400,000.00 pump? 2. (yes, two) But, that DOES let them get to that Sharp farm!

And what about that tricky karst geography and lack of flat land? Well folks, there are thousands of acres of flat land in hollows off of state owned away from the Scenic Highway, businesses and homes. And that darned karst. (fissured limestone with underground water channels, caves, conduits and sinkholes) DWW forgot to mention that one (1) (yes, that's right, one) entire study point was performed under the headworks building (raw sewage) or SBR tanks (open vats with millions of gallons of sewage)on the proposed sitee and it found a VOID! (This void was the same size found on another infamous site, looked at belatedly in the scheme of things, which the project leaders announced they couldn't possibly build a plant there due to its presence)

They found voids all over the Sharp farm site. Microgravity studies were ordered (kind of like ground x-rays) and, guess what, voids were found. The county's own consultant ordered core drillings to see if the 'soundings' on the microgravity report indicated a cave. Only two new core drillings were done and they were not underneath the proposed site of the headworks or SBR tanks. The consultant contacted the Sharps and shared his concern that the project officials chose to not share the core information with him nor was he asked to evaluate that information. Would you be surprised to learn that the two new core samples found voids? One sample found seven stacked voids on top of each other. Why is this important?

Karst is ever changing. The force of underground water flow and pressure eats away at the limestone and causes a dynamic, ever changing landscape - above and underneath the ground. Case in point. Just feet away from the proposed site an area that was once a cornfield is now a miniature Yellowstone. It is riddled with water channels spewing water like geysers. Large sinkholes have appeared in the last decade with water rushing out, forming new streambeds. The point being, what was once stable land is not now. Could that possibly happen under the buildings housing raw sewage? Of course! The Sharp farm is full of ancient and current sinkholes. On November 30, 2005, a 20-foot deep, 30-foot wide chasm opened up. A river of water could be seen rushing under the recently exposed boulders in the depths of the hole. Even if the officials claim to be able to find four corners of the karst for each building to rest on, those four corners may not be there tomorrow. Couldn't happen again? Wellllll, not exactly. Just last week a tractor sank into a hole 100 feet from the proposed site and had to be pulled out with heavy equipment.

The other issue of karst is the fact that is so porous. One of the county hired consultants actually warned project officials that the Sharp farm site was the most dangerous due to the close proximity of the karst to an important aquatic habitat on the Big Spring Fork. (the rare host of three naturally reproducing trout and an imperiled endemic crayfish, Cambarus Elkensis) and that any spill, accident or overflow would immediately be spirited away into the groundwater. What about our wells and springs? Good question.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection's own geology department filed a 21-page 'trip-study' with its own agency warning about the dangers of a treatment plant and discharge at the Sharp farm.

The most amazing thing is that every karst expert in the world warned against the Sharp farm site. Several local karst experts (known worldwide) suggest that a karst-free site is less than 1/2 mile away. It happens to be on state land. And do you know, that Governor Manchin has offered ANY suitable state owned land to the project leaders for a transfer fee of $1.00? But here is where it gets really twisted. The officials say we couldn't possibly burden the future ratepayers with the added cost to go down that whole 1/2 mile (and, well-uh, Snowshoe can't afford the delay).

What is this all about? It was ok to add Silvercreek. The DEP now requires up to $2 million of changes to the treatment plant (they forgot to plan for the Native Brook Trout and other precious life) but it seems an increase is ok for that....but not ok to move the plant to a safe place off the karst.

Why would it be more money to move the plant to the very place it was supposed to go in the first place? Well, back to those 'PHASES'. Phase 1, curiously, ended just short of the bottom of the drainage basin (at the Sharp farm) the huge geographic area of Phase 1 is, oddly, next to the bottom of the drainage basin in Phase 4. Phase 4? Why would phase 4 be next to phase 1? And why would Phase 4 be a tiny area with only two potential customers?

Remember WAY back at the beginning of this post? One state agency requires that 3 sites be considered (as well as no site). In the official Facilities Plan they list 3 sites. Guess how many were in Phase 1, the phase they are going to build? (in this century) 1 (yes, one....again) Would you be surprised to learn that one and only site was on the Sharp farm? How does that tie in with cost? Well, if they looked at 3 sites within the phase to be constructed the Sharp farm is the furthest point west at the border of Phase 1. If they looked at 2 other sites in Phase 1, the Sharp farm site would, by far, be the costliest because it is the furthest away from Snwoshoe. But no, the officials claim (despite millions spent in legal wrangling to take the farm via eminent domain) the Sharp farm site it the most, well let's just say it, the CHEAPEST! Why is it the cheapest. What if they put the plant down where the experts recommend and where it was supposed to go? "We weren't planning to go down there so we just can't afford to tax those ratepayers for those extra pipes". After all, that area is in Phase 4. Now the light bulb goes off. Consider one site in Phase 1 (the one you are actually going to build) and the other two in Phase 4 (the one that is the least likely to every be built) and you can come up with excuses all day! You will never hear the officials suggest meeting to possibly reconfigure Phase 1 to exclude some Snowshoe customers this go around (after all, Snowshoe and the officials claim this is a 'regional plant' and not Snowshoe's plant) and add them in during the second phase so that the project can move the plant to a safe place and the cost can remain the same and thus not raise the rates.

"The other requirement is that the ultimate rate needs to be affordable for the average homeowner. Most of the other locations evaluated would increase costs significantly due to the need for bridges, longer distances to run lines, etc. "

West Virginia University offered to build this bridge for free with a $500,000.00 grant.

" It's not as simple as buying land from a willing seller (of flat, non-flood-plain, non-karst, centrally located) land. " DWW seems to have been told or has forgotten that the Sharp farm site is actually ALLUVIUM (flood deposits) over KARST. The proposed site was created by flooding. It is called an alluvial fan. And yes, it is flat. So flat that more than half of it is in the official FEMA 100-year floodplain. The buildings are being scrunched up against the Scenic highway to get them in an area 'safe' from flooding.

Too bad they had the adjacent Middle Mountain stream declared 'non-existent' (bodies of water under the jurisdiction of the Army Corp of Engineers require bothersome environmental studies) because the stream, which created the very site, still floods onto it like a monster during heavy downpours and sudden snowmelts. Where does it enter? Right at the spot of the headworks building and SBR tanks. Ouch! The Big Spring Fork above the site was straightened to accommodate the highway, so the water gains a tremendous velocity as it approaches the site. Since the alluvial fan (the site) is in the direct path of the Big Spring Fork, it is forced to negotiate a sharp left hand turn to get around. Does it always manage this? No. In severe flooding, the river jumps its banks and flows over the (somewhat) higher part of the site right along the highway (and where the buildings will be).

"In fact, the owner of the Sharp Farm land in question was a willing seller early on until the rest of the family jumped in. " Well, since DWW is from Cincinnati he or she couldn't possibly actually know that this is a LIE! By the way, do you know how the Sharp family found out about the fact that their land would be taken? In a newspaper report. Lovely. The family member soon, thereafter, received a letter about eminent domain. I am happy to share a copy of the reply sent to WD Smith, project manager. Could it possibly have begged him to not take the precious land? Could it have informed him of the geological anomalies on the site? Yes? Yes. No wiling seller, folks. Why would the Sharp family allow this land to be taken? It is part of an 8 generation Pocahontas County heritage. It is land that has been kept in the family at great expense and sacrifice. The situation of a sewer treatment plant next to the Sharp's Country Store, established in 1884, and the recently restored 1900's farmhouse B&B will spell ruination. Loss of livelihood means loss of farm.

Trout Unlimited, The Isaak Walton League, The National Speleological Association, Friends of Elk, The Elk Headwaters Watershed Association, The West Virginia Outdoor Sportsmen Association, The Mid-Atlantic Fly-Fishermen Association, the Sierra Club, countless experts in biology, hydrology and karst have filed letters of protest about the Sharp farm site selection.

Did I mention that two graves of historic Sharp family pioneers (one a Civil War casualty) will be bulldozed? Oh, they can't do that. Wanna bet? Less than 100 feet above the site is a hill with the family cemetery with the founders of the community buried. Mourners will look down upon 2.25 million gallons of human waste in open vats. One project leader (by the way, a Snowshoe exec) asked, "Will they smell it? The dead people. Will they smell it up there?'

Why on earth is the State of West Virginia determined to ruin the Sharp's hopes and dreams and way of life, endanger the aquatic life, and threaten the underground water supply when FREE state land is about 1/4 mile away? This site has 1 million gallons per day higher available wasteload allocation than the Sharp farm site. Snowshoe could build Disneyland up there with that allocation.

Lastly, permit me one 'emotional', 'sentimental' moment. Evva Shelton. Who is she? Well, she did what we all strive to do. Raise a family (3 girls) provide for them and live life in peace and not bother anyone. Evva did this all by herself. Her husband died soon after her twins were born. She has lived on the Sharp farm (just feet from the proposed site) for 66 years. She is 94 years young. Ladies and gentlemen, she was sent her very own eminent domain letter!

Eminent domain in a rural setting with thousand of offered state owned acres available is ludicrous. We are not in Manhattan, folks. Please move this plant! Please call the governor's office at Toll-Free: 1-888-438-2731
E-mail: Governor@WVGov.org / ask for his executive assistant, Joe Martin.

Please call Bill Rock, general manager of Snowshoe at 304-572-INFO.

Please call the soon to be new owners of Snowshoe, FORTRESS INVESTMENTS (Wesley R. Edens) 212-798-6100 and ask them to do the right thing.

Tell them you want to ski, but not on the backs of the Sharp family and the communities heritage. You might mention the fact that hundreds of Snowshoe property owners sent letter with individually signed petitions asking officials to move the plant. Over a thousand local residents likewise signed. The peition doesn't ask to stop Snowshoe, stop economic development or stop anything. It merely asks to move the sewer treatment plant away from the Scenic Highway, off the Sharp farm and onto safe land.

Thank you.

Please visit http://www.savethesharpfarm.com
fb
September 20, 2006
Member since 03/16/2006 🔗
68 posts
sharp,

whats the latest on the state supreme court hearing your case? i was in elk river touring center last week and heard that they had turned down the request to hear the case.

how about Robert Byrd? any luck from his office?
have you contacted some of the national news outlets in DC?
the only way to save your farm will come from a mass public backlash- try FOX or some of the other national players.
RyanC
September 20, 2006
Member since 11/28/2003 🔗
160 posts
This is ridiculous. I'd love to know what local government or regulatory official(s) are allowing Snowshoe to continue with this. As I've said many times, private companies and developers run amok are the real threat to the WV highlands, not the land preservation movement. These things screw over local residents and second homeowners alike.
fb
September 20, 2006
Member since 03/16/2006 🔗
68 posts
how about the 'farmland protection' program?
http://home.sunlitsurf.com/~pocahontascc/farmland.html
DWW
September 20, 2006
Member since 03/11/2004 🔗
144 posts
Thank you Sharp1 for the extensive write up on this issue. Clearly there is much information, interpretation, and mis-information floating around on this issue. I appologize for spreading anything that is not factual. Clearly I am not on the front line of this issue. It does still seem to me that there are multiple parties to "blame" for this mess - Snowshoe, PSC, engineers and consultants, local politicians, state politicians, non-Snowshoe developers, etc., etc. I don't believe it was Snowshoe's original intention to take private property from an unwilling seller, as is portrayed by some. It does seem that this took a life of its own, and SS could have done more to help manage the process for everyones benefit. For the record, I am against eminent domain and did sign the petition against it that the Sharp family circulated. I would just like to see the community (and yes I believe SS is a part of the greater community) come to a long term solution that benefits everyone - local residents, businesses, vacation home owners, guests, environment. I don't think it should be an us vs. them position - all can benefit if done properly. Hopefully the new owners at Fortress will pony up and help make it work.
sharp1
September 20, 2006
Member since 09/19/2006 🔗
14 posts
The chairman of the Pocahontas County Public Service District resigned recently. In a letter to the community printed in the Pocahontas Times, he indicated the reason they took on this $17 million project (the board is comprised of three members, all from a hamlet called Durbin, 40 miles away. Their duties up until this time was to look after the Durbin water supply. An example of their skill in this endeavor; a hydrant in town has been leaking for two years.) because they were in debt. The officials told them that money coming in on this project would put them in the clear. The board members make $50.00 a month. Some have not been paid for over 1 1/2 years.
Pocahontas County actually took on this project so the PSD board members could get themselves out of debt, you ask? Apparently so....it is in the letter.

He continues on saying that meetings were held behind closed doors....you know, I think I'll just post his letter and you can see for yourselves:

Thursday August 3, 2006
The Pocahontas Times
Calvin Hill's Resignation Letter

I am writing this letter because I want to do the right thing and be fair with the people. I recently resigned as chairman of the Public Service District after serving for a good while. I have had some things on my mind that concern me that I want to share with you.

The PSD was having trouble paying its bills so we agreed to take on Snowshoe's sewer customers because we were told it was a way of getting out of debt. However, I am unhappy with recent developments. I feel like there were very important issues that should have been brought to our attention that were decided behind closed doors without my knowledge. Meetings were held in Charleston and elsewhere that we were not invited to or informed about. I don't like the way things have been going on behind our backs. The attorney, Tom Michael, seems to be running the show.

Our plant manager, who is not a member of the PSD board, was sent last week by Mr. Michael to my house to discuss the water plant and to sign checks.

I felt uncomfortable making decisions about the water plant without the other board members present. In my mind, a special meeting should have taken place with the entire board.

The county commission should be working with us so we can all pull together to make the right decisions for the community, but this is not happening. I am receiving lots of letters from citizens expressing their opposition to the location of the sewer plant and the use of eminent domain. These are also some of my concerns and have been weighing heavily on my mind.

I am not happy about how information was withheld from us during our decision making. The proper information at the right time would have allowed us to make the best decisions. In all good conscience, I believe Snowshoe should stand on its own two feet and take care of the sewer itself.

I am proud to have served on the PSD.

I am asking Joel Callison to reconsider his stance on eminent domain for the Sharp Farm. He has been dedicated to the citizens of Pocahontas County. He will regain their much-deserved support if he listens to the people and does the right thing. He has been a great supporter of growth of tourism that has steadily increased. He has increased jobs and new businesses for our county. Joel is also a member of the Pocahontas County Farm Bureau and helped create the local Farmland Protection program ensuring that future generations would have farmland in our county.

Let's help save the Sharp Farm, as well, for future generations.

Sincerely,
Calvin Hill
Durbin

Now, for the Farmland protection question. To understand this issue one needs to understand the dynamics of the politics over this project. Pocahontas County is ruled by a three member county commission. President Joel Callison co-owns a company named Greenbrier Investments, LLC. They buy, sell and rent property at Snowshoe. Reta Griffith's husband is the CPA for Snowshoe. James Carpenter's son works for the law firm working on bonding the project.

Mr. Callison, a 12-year incumbent democrat (basically loved and respected in this community) campaigned on taking the Sharp farm via Eminent Domain for the good of Snowshoe and progress. He was soundly defeated....winning only one precinct (his own town) by a couple of votes.

During a special county commission meeting on Farmland Protection a proposal was made to donate the Sharp farm to the program. Well, it seems that Mr. Callison is on the Farmland Protection Board. His comment? "I will not accept the application"

It is so odd that this special meeting, where they voted to levy a special tax on transfers of property, was all about saving farmland to retain the open vistas and land for future generations. An opportunity to preserve historic farmland was refused.

The community and the Sharp family need your help. If you read this thread and are of the opinion that this just should not be, please call, write and show up at public venues to confront those elected to serve the people. If you are a Snowshoe customer, no one is trying to stop Snowshoe or cause them any harm. It is just a matter of what is safe, what is right and what is fair. The next time you are up on the mountain, stop by Mr. Rock's office and ask him to reconsider his decision for the good of all involved, including Snowshoe.

Thank you.
sharp1
September 20, 2006
Member since 09/19/2006 🔗
14 posts
To DWW. Pardon my numerous postings on this subject but I have to THANK DWW for a most responsible, respectful and rational response. If you are ever on the wrong side of an eminent domain action you will know how excruciatingly difficult it is to hear some of the things said in his previous post as 'fact'. That is why I felt it necessary to share the 'long version' of this project with this group.

To DWW's credit, the reply was not defensive. The information DWW posted was almost verbatim the language of the project officials, so I assumed this was another attempt on their part to quell the protests. It demonstrates the effectiveness of their 'spin'.

I absolutely agree that Snowshoe is not totally responsible for this mess. That being said, they built a village up on the mountain without the proper attention to infrastructure. Even though they are well aware of every detail of this fiasco, they choose to still support the taking of the Sharp farm. It turns out that they are even guaranteeing the loan to the PSD that may be used to take the farm.

Again, thank you DWW for your wise words. We can only hope that someone in power could have half the integrity and willingness to have a hard look at all the facts as you have demonstrated in your post.
DWW
September 20, 2006
Member since 03/11/2004 🔗
144 posts
Sharp1 - Do you have any idea how Snowshoe can continue to get building permits for condos (Soaring Eagle, Expedition Station, Eight Rivers) when thier existing sewage system is out of compliance and any solution is years away?

If the field in question is as unstable as you say, how can the DEP/EPA possibly approve a permit for that location?

Thanks
sharp1
September 20, 2006
Member since 09/19/2006 🔗
14 posts
Very good question? Any ideas? I see by other posts you have made that you have a place nearby. Perhaps you know something? Snowshoe's violations are on file with the DEP and are available from the DEP through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).

As for the DEP/EPA, they have not issued the discharge permit. Hearings are to come. The DEP admits they may have never tackled discharging effluent into a dry riverbed in karst before. Perhaps they are experimenting?
fb
September 21, 2006
Member since 03/16/2006 🔗
68 posts
The quick & dirty answer is a 'box for a box', at least for the condos. iirc T'line becomes Expedition, Spruce becomes 8 Rivers, Shavers becomes new convention center, etc. etc.
Its one of those techinicality things that came down to 'room count'- 100 rooms in spruce in exchange for 100 in 8 rivers, etc. No encroachment and no new environmental impact studies, probably similar to trading 'pollution credits'.

sharp, not sure if u saw my earlier post- what happened to the state supreme court hearing your case earlier this month?
DWW
September 21, 2006
Member since 03/11/2004 🔗
144 posts
Flanary - here's the write up on the supreme court ruling in the Pocahonatas Times:

Supreme Court declines to hear sewer appeal
Drew Tanner
Staff Writer
In a 5-0 decision September 6, the justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals declined to hear an appeal regarding the sewage treatment plant proposed for Snowshoe and Slaty Fork.
Attorney Deirdre Purdy, representing Tom Shipley, said the court's decision was not a strike against the merits of the case, but simply meant the court did not want to hear the appeal.
"It doesn't go to our underlying questions at all, or the site or the sewage treatment plant itself," said Purdy. "If it tells us anything indirectly, it tells us we should go to the DEP."
The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection is expected to issue a permit for the proposed plant to discharge into the Big Spring Fork of the Elk River in the near future.
Shipley-who represents the fourth generation of his family to operate Sharp's Country Store and Bed and Breakfast-has steadfastly argued that the site chosen by project planners and owned by his aunt Barbara Sharp Smith, of Texas, is the wrong place to put the plant.
Shipley and his legal team have argued that the location of the plant would be devastating to his business and to the health of the Big Spring Fork, which is a native trout stream.
Local and state conservation groups have weighed in with their own concerns about the project and its impact on the stream.
In the marble chambers of the Supreme Court Wednesday morning, Purdy argued that the West Virginia Public Service Commission had not followed its own regulations when it granted a Certificate of Necessity for the sewage treatment plant.
Purdy pointed out that the PSC requires a project to have all the necessary permits or to show good cause as to why the permits are not available.
In this particular case, Purdy said, the PSC is now arguing that the law prevents the permits from being available or even applied for.
Purdy also argued the PSC had failed to address the fact the record shows the plant will be too small to serve the area in just 10-to-15 years.
The regulations of the Bureau of Public Health and DEP require that plants be designed to handle at least 20 years of population growth and development.
While the PSC can't enforce the regulations of another state agency, Purdy said the PSC has considered whether other projects meet BPH and DEP standards.
It is part of the PSC's job to decide whether or not a project is adequate, reliable, well planned and balances the needs of present and future customers, Purdy said.
From the bench, Justice Larry Starcher asked Purdy if the people who would be served by the plant actually wanted it.
Purdy replied that there were "numerous petitions" on record with the PSC against the project, both from residents in the Slaty Fork area and Snowshoe property owners.
Starcher also asked how many households the project would serve off the mountain.
Purdy replied that the number was 164-about 8 percent of the total customer base-and that "most say they don't want it."
Tom Michael, representing the Pocahontas County Public Service District said the protests lodged with the PSC represented a small number of the 1,981 potential customers.
Michael also told the court that 57 of the 65 easements needed for sewer lines between Snowshoe Mountain and the Sharp property had been donated, indicating support for the project.
Michael was joined by PSC attorney Cassius Toon in saying that Shipley's argument was with the DEP, and not the PSC.
Toon added that the certificate from the PSC would be invalid if the necessary permits did not come through.
While permit details were being argued in Charleston, the DEP responded to a citizen complaint of a possible sewage spill in the Slaty Fork area that same morning.
DEP spokesperson Jessica Greathouse said inspector Robin Dolly traveled to Slaty Fork to investigate.
"This area is approximately 10 miles from the Snowshoe Resort sewage treatment system," said Greathouse. "As of [Thursday] morning, Inspector Dolly had no evidence that a sewage spill had occurred from any sewage system."
sharp1
September 21, 2006
Member since 09/19/2006 🔗
14 posts
DWW. Just found out the reason Snowshoe can build and build without control is that there are no building permits required in Pocahontas County, except in Marlinton. The DEP would be the only entity that could put a moratorium on building until they solved their infrastructure and treatment problems.
fb
September 22, 2006
Member since 03/16/2006 🔗
68 posts
they can build, but not without control. not sure about the building permits piece (theres got to be some kind of permit process- but then again its wv so who knows- kinda like dc, it all depends on who u know and its a major good ol boy network, aka country style lobbying).

theres all kinds of paperwork, permits, and govt red tape to expand on either the slopes or new big boxes (unless its the box for box approach). environmental impact studies have to be done and fed permits have to be issued since the land is in national forest (just like out west- vail, etc). pretty sure its filed thru national forest service, dept. of interior. dont have links but know there are some posted on these pages if u run a search.

then theres dealing with the environmental wackos and tree huggers. the elusive flying tree squirrel (which my jack russell loves to terrorize regardless of subspecies) and the spotted salamander, both proclaimed endangered species. im all for helping our 'furry little friends, etc' but theres millions of acres for them to play on and the nutjobs, lawyers, and the govt make it hell to cut down a single tree that may be threatening to fall on your digs in the name of protection. (makes about as much sense as destroying a man's land and dumping a giant turd floater project on it when theres millions of acres up in them thar hills that would be viable entities).

the private projects on 'new turf' are probably subject to the same show (l'run, s'mill, s'eagle). individual owners on west ridge have to call out the professor to determine if the buggers are on their property before building or cutting a branch. check the listings- land that is deemed 'bugger free' carries a much higher price tag.
DWW
September 22, 2006
Member since 03/11/2004 🔗
144 posts
Yes that is true. My understanding is that when we build eventually, no building permit is required. Although, we will need to get a health department approval for the location and type, etc. of septic system. If the health department is worried about a single home, I can't imagine why they wouldn't be concerned about new condo buildings. Some priorities are certainly screwed up. You can't take a salamanders home, but you can take a families property.
fb
September 22, 2006
Member since 03/16/2006 🔗
68 posts
animals are incredibly versatile, resilient and not stupid. they dont like us on their turf and they move on about their biz. the whole spotted owl issue is butkus, but makes the wackos FEEL good, and drives up the lumber prices.

just this week- an 'artic' seal here in good ol nc;
http://dwb.newsobserver.com/news/ncwire_news/story/3010476p-9431740c.html
the nutjobs would have u beleive that an animal cant survive out of its 'normal pristine habitat'. why kill the poor guy - why not the handler for not taking proper precautions around a wild animal?

the anwar alaska deal is the same. we cant hurt the caribou- other environments have shown that they thrive with an oil pipeline. theyre found huddling around the warm pipes and population increases due to increased 'networking' opportunities. it sure as **** doesnt FEEL good to me, or probably u, to pay $3+/gal with proved petro deposits sitting in our backyard. common sense has long left the plantation.
KevR
September 22, 2006
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz... wha?

Oh, another one of these posts.

Except that every species is adapted to a niche, and if the niche changes enough, the species won't make it. That's the real issue.

Well the real issue is whether that's important or not, after all species have come and gone for millenia... including our own.

Of course it would be height of irony if we were the first species in earth history to do ourselves in, now that would be a gas.
DCSki Sponsor: Canaan Valley Resort
fb
September 22, 2006
Member since 03/16/2006 🔗
68 posts
im not talking about dumping toxic sludge or the potential to drop a nuke on ourselves- im a defender of the environment. when a man (an animal) cant build a home b/c of loony rules, something is wrong. look at a usgs satellite shot to realize the microcosm of a house footprint, etc to the overall scope of things. some of the worst offenders of the environment are the ones that claim to help it- look at the oodles of trash left behind on the mall next 'earth day' (it makes the bears projects look civil).

a killer book on this controversy, regardless of viewpoint, is crichton's 'state of fear'.
jimmy
September 22, 2006
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
Quote:

the anwar alaska deal is the same. we cant hurt the caribou- other environments have shown that they thrive with an oil pipeline. theyre found huddling around the warm pipes and population increases due to increased 'networking' opportunities. it sure as **** doesnt FEEL good to me, or probably u, to pay $3+/gal with proved petro deposits sitting in our backyard. common sense has long left the plantation.




IMO we'd never have to, in the near future, drill a producing well in ANWAR to have a positve effect on oil prices. IF exploration is approved, the *potential* increase in supply would be enough to encourage our dear oil producing friends in the middle east to reduce the price of oil to the point it would eliminate our incentive to put the ANWAR reserves into production. While we're on the subject........
KevR
September 22, 2006
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
Although single points of failure can be devasting, no less devasting, perhaps even more so is simply the accumulated effects of change over time.

In the case of buildings (and i own a house so i am part of this equation), that footprint of a house x large #s of houses results in a massive change to the enviroment.

Of course I'm not really trying to argue with you, just trying to point out the real issue is whether we should care or not about the ramifications of what we are doing.

Who cares if another species is knocked off because we build houses in area with a particular species that will then become extinct by that building?

After all the historical record is replete with extinctions. Heck, we are mostly a planet of extinctions! (there have been more species in the past than there currently are now, right?)

And who cares? Who cries for dino? Not me. Should we care at all?

About the only thing I can come up with is that if we let things CHANGE ENOUGH, we may find ourselves out of our own niche. That's self-interest at work.

I don't know about you, but I can't live on any other planet we can reasonably get to without a massive technological support mechanism...

So we are narrowly adapted ourselves, it just doesn't seem like it...
KevR
September 22, 2006
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
Nah, everyone's thinking about the Jack field in the Gulf de Mexico...

Jimbo dont know about Jack?
Roger Z
September 22, 2006
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Although I agree with your concern about endangered species takings, Flanary, there is some poetic justice if Snowshoe tries to take someone else's property and then they can't build out because of a little lizard, dontcha think?
fb
September 23, 2006
Member since 03/16/2006 🔗
68 posts
i just dont understand how dep, etc. are allowing the plant to proceed on its current path. all other issues aside, im adamant against the govt taking a mans land period. not sure if those two critters affected area is defined that far down the mountain. sharp?
tgd
September 23, 2006
Member since 07/15/2004 🔗
585 posts
Now that we're way off-topic, anyone who seriously believes oil in the ANWAR is going to have an impact on the $$ we spend at the pump is seriously misled. The ANWAR deal is all about enriching a handful of people and a few big oil companies. The potential oil reserve there, coupled with the time and cost to develop and transport it pale compared to the proven oil reserves in the middle east and Africa.

I'm no environmental idealist - but I wasn't born last night either. I prefer to be pragmatic. I have a family to feed and a kid to put through college. I invest in Exxon - they own the best politicians money can buy.
fishnski
September 23, 2006
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
Your right tgd,Its still a lot cheaper & smarter to drain the mideast oil. I've been telling friends for years that we should just add places like ANWAR to the srategic reserves...& keep sucking the mideast dry! $219 a gallon down here in the carolinas
jimmy
September 23, 2006
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
Quote:

Nah, everyone's thinking about the Jack field in the Gulf de Mexico...

Jimbo dont know about Jack?





Kev LOL after all these years u finally figured out i don't know jack . Jack is 25000 feet below a floating drill rig, and u know what?? if oil is 70 a barrel it's worth drilling for Jack, if it's 50 a barrel it's not. My guess is anwr reserves would be much less expensive to extract, threaten them with potential supply and they'll keep the price down, but i'm probably wrong i don't know jack .
Roger Z
September 23, 2006
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
I heard Jack was 45 a barrel to extract, which is about the same as the last price tag I heard on ANWR. EXCEPT- Jack is potentially 5 times as large and way less controversial. I say "follow the path of least resistance"- let's get Jack and put the ANWR to bed for now.

Speaking of which, did anyone see the USA Today article this week (I was at a conference, so I got to read America's Greatest Literature for three mornings in a row) about how the Air Force is testing a new synthetic fuel for airplanes? If it works, it could reduce military air demand for fuel by 50%, and could be adopted by commercial airlines as well. Still a few years off (at best), but an interesting development... apparently the military uses 2.6 billion gallons of gas a year for flying, so this isn't a small drop in the bucket. Add 15 billion barrels of proven reserves, subtract 1.3 billion annualized barrels of demand, equals a better place to be than we are now, no?

Oh and Flanary I don't think the spotted salamander or whatever it is exists below 4000 feet.

ps- Andy, 1.99 a gallon in Missouri and 2.04 a gallon in Kansas as of yesterday (9/22/06).
sharp1
September 23, 2006
Member since 09/19/2006 🔗
14 posts
"all other issues aside, im adamant against the govt taking a mans land period. not sure if those two critters affected area is defined that far down the mountain. sharp?"

Thanks for your stance on Eminent Domain.
The West Virginia Department of Fish & Wildlife and the West Virginia DNR both filed letters with the project officials warning them that, to their knowledge, "No known environmental studies of any kind.." have taken place in this region. They even went a step further, suggesting that this area hosts a habitat that is used by endangered species.

To give you an idea how project planning works in WV. The engineering company sends a letter to the information officer of each agency...asking do you have any records of endangered species. The information officer replies that no records are in their files.

They then submit a response from an information officer who in no way represents or has the power to endorse on behalf of the head officials of Fish & Wildlife or DNR, to an engineer at the DEP. The engineer (who, by the way, testified that the plant would not harm the native brown trout....problem is our state fish is our native Brook Trout...which is a very fragile creature prone to dying when hit with 87 degree discharge from sewer plants) The engineer 'accepts' the information officer response and check 'done' on the form. No one is asked to solve the 'catch 22' dilemma of no study ever being done there. No study, no info in files. Check the box, 'done'.

Tom Chapman, head of Fish & Wildlife wrote a letter to the officials warning them of the imperiled Cambarus Elkensis, (one of only 2 endemic species to WV) at the Sharp farm site so that the project officials would move the plant. Nope, Nada. Too bad for us and the community, because Fish & Wildlife has no enforcement power.
jimmy
September 23, 2006
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
Sharp1, I read your post clear through and it gave me chills. I cannot understand why when there is state owned property that is suitable for this sewage plant, available and basically free that *they* feel it's better to take ur farm. Who is they and what is their motivation?? I hope anyone who cares about fragile environments, property rights and fair play will

Quote:

Eminent domain in a rural setting with thousand of offered state owned acres available is ludicrous. We are not in Manhattan, folks. Please move this plant! Please call the governor's office at Toll-Free: 1-888-438-2731
E-mail: Governor@WVGov.org / ask for his executive assistant, Joe Martin.

Please call Bill Rock, general manager of Snowshoe at 304-572-INFO.

Please call the soon to be new owners of Snowshoe, FORTRESS INVESTMENTS (Wesley R. Edens) 212-798-6100 and ask them to do the right thing.

Tell them you want to ski, but not on the backs of the Sharp family and the communities heritage. You might mention the fact that hundreds of Snowshoe property owners sent letter with individually signed petitions asking officials to move the plant. Over a thousand local residents likewise signed. The peition doesn't ask to stop Snowshoe, stop economic development or stop anything. It merely asks to move the sewer treatment plant away from the Scenic Highway, off the Sharp farm and onto safe land.





What kind of arrogant prick would say this!!

Quote:

One project leader (by the way, a Snowshoe exec) asked, "Will they smell it? The dead people. Will they smell it up there?'



sharp1
September 23, 2006
Member since 09/19/2006 🔗
14 posts
"What kind of arrogant prick would say this!!

Jimmy, it was one of the saddest days of my life. I don't know how they look themselves in the mirror.

by the way thanks for posting the contact info. We need help here. Thanks to everyone who takes the time to pick up the phone or send an e-mail or letter.
KevR
September 23, 2006
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
I read that it could be a 50% increase in US domestic reserves! I mean, they can dream, we can dream too. nothing else is even remotely worth it on our side of atlantic. I'm for anything to break the back of the mid-east oil junta... anything, well almost. we got to take that playing card out of the hands of despots and idiots.

now what does this have to do with skiing again?
tgd
September 24, 2006
Member since 07/15/2004 🔗
585 posts
OK guys, before we all get our woodies over jack and anwar's potential to change the international oil equation, take a look at this:
Greatest Oil Reserves by Country, 2006

So, let's say jack and anwar double our oil reserves. That brings u.s. to a grand total of around 40 billion barrels - a mere 220 billion barrels shy of Saudi Arabia's known reserves. We'll close in on our new best friends in Iran by about 90 billion barrels, while the 51st state of America - Iraq - stands another 65 billion barrels up on u.s. What the heck is Canada doing at #2 you might ask (we can definately take Canada if we need to ..eh? Well, their 178 billion barrels is locked up in shale which is very costly and messy to extract. Bottomline, I don't think any sheik's are shakin' over our new finds. Conservation, alternative fuels, or the return of the stone age are about the only things that will change this equation.


Quote:

now what does this have to do with skiing again?



Well, since we all miss mm and his annual gloom and doom predictions of rain, unseasonable warmth, and the pending global catastrophe - How will gas prices affect my plans for skiing this year? NOT A BIT.
bawalker
September 24, 2006
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
In support of sharp1.. my family is going through nearly the EXACT same issue by trying to fight off the Lost River dams which the county claims are needed for public water. In fact there are more buildings in this county than there are people, and our population growth rate is about 400 per every 10 years. At the last census it was around 12,500. Not nesseciarly pressing for water here.

But the issue is that just like Sharp is facing crooked politicians, dirty people willing to see good people goto the grave broken hearted, same is for the hardy county commission, potomac valley soil conservation service and the NRCS (national resources conservation service). It's times like these we all need to stick together and get rid of these crooked people. Fight and defend for what is morally right and of what is ours.

I encourage ANYONE on here to support sharps cause and our cause. Because quiet frankly... how long before YOUR HOME is taken next?

Anyone interested in receiving updated information and being added to the public_news@savelostriver.org email mailing list, please privately contact me with your email address. Also there is a scoping workshop from 4-7pm at the Baker Firehall in Baker, WV on Tues 26 4-7pm. This workshop is the NRCS presenting falsified evidence to backup their E.I.S. statement. We encourage ANYONE to attend if possible. YOUR tax dollars are funding this and we need people to show up and grill these government workers for why they are continually lying.
Roger Z
September 24, 2006
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Keep in mind that "proven reserves" are only those oils that can be recovered "economically." As the price goes up, the amount of "proven reserves" expands. For instance, we are sitting on who knows how many barrels of oil locked away in coal shale, but it costs 80 dollars a barrel or more to extract, so none of it is "proven." If oil prices got high enough, you bet your arse we'd get it.

And that could be good for West Virginia! Except I'm sure they'd use more eminent domain to develop the fields.

Sharp that was an excellent post back on the first page of this discussion. When I read about your struggles, and Brad's, and all the garbage going on in New Jersey (perhaps the eminent domain capital of the U.S.), I'm mystified. Why would they persist for so long in taking a single piece of property if so many others are actually available? Are they really saving money as opposed to resubmitting with a new site and plan? I don't get it...
KevR
September 25, 2006
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
I think its more complicated than this because of the energy cost associated with recovering the oil to begin with. yes, higher per barrel value make more reserves economical, but this usually means it costs more energy to recover the now expanded reserves -- essentially eating in to your reserves.

I suppose then there's s limit to the ability to recover oil economically past some point as it takes more and more energy to get that freakin' barrel of oil out of the ground (even as reserves expand), some "peak" if you will.... :-)

Anyway, as to another comment about oil price (maybe), my opinion is the future market was driving up the cost recently, speculation -- more than anything else.

Basically my take is that oil was at say $60 per barrel and the futures market had the barrel at $70 off out for a month or two.

The net result was that folks were buying up oil "today" and storing it, and then making their futures contract deliveries with a nice tidy profit...

Why they didn't really have to do much of anything did they to get a profit! Oh joy!

The net effect of lots of folks doing this was to drive the price of oil up as folks bought the stuff up... and as eventually all that unwound, and the long term price of oil dropped, we've seen gas come back down, helped I think by various other external factors too (like a cooling us economy, mitigation of conflicts, etc...)

As for the shale, reserves by country, yes those saudi's really have it don't they. I think the shale concept is oversold but what do i know. massively subsidized too I t hink... a pipe dream if you ask me and dirty to produce as well.
tgd
September 25, 2006
Member since 07/15/2004 🔗
585 posts
Quote:

Keep in mind that "proven reserves" are only those oils that can be recovered "economically." As the price goes up, the amount of "proven reserves" expands. For instance, we are sitting on who knows how many barrels of oil locked away in coal shale, but it costs 80 dollars a barrel or more to extract, so none of it is "proven." If oil prices got high enough, you bet your arse we'd get it.





OK, so you're saying we can have as much $5/gallon gas as we want? If the price of oil goes up to the point that it becomes economical to flood the market with lots more expensive oil driving the price where?
Roger Z
September 25, 2006
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Quote:

OK, so you're saying we can have as much $5/gallon gas as we want? If the price of oil goes up to the point that it becomes economical to flood the market with lots more expensive oil driving the price where?




Answers: 1) yes, basically. 2) higher, probably.

Technology drives costs down, too. The Jack extract at 45 dollars a barrel would have been impossible to retrieve 10 years ago from a financial perspective (whatever technology existed probably wouldn't reach 25,000 feet down, and if it did it would have cost a fortune).

Regardless, markets exist to ration products that are over or underproduced. If oil went to ten dollars a gallon refined in today's dollars, it'd be because we were pretty much out and only the people who truly needed it should be using it. It'd be an economic disaster, but given that the likely causes of such high prices are a) truly running out of oil or b) a global war against the Middle East (or the U.S.), we'd be facing a lot bigger problems than the employment rate at the time. The military could issue IOUs and Heaven help us if we lost, or Mad Max could run the two or three remaining oil trucks around to our SUVs to get us to work.

Look at the bright side: the air would get a lot cleaner and global warming would become a lot smaller of an issue as every nation exceeded it's Kyoto targets by 100%! And we'd all be in great shape from bicycling everywhere! The Wilson Bridge would probably still back up though...
jimmy
September 25, 2006
Member since 03/5/2004 🔗
2,650 posts
Yah, jimmy loves multiple choice test almost as much as T/F.

Answers: 1) yes, absolutly. 2) lower, probably.



Quote:

Look at the bright side: the air would get a lot cleaner and global warming would become a lot smaller of an issue as every nation exceeded it's Kyoto targets by 100%!




U NO WUT?......we've gone from immenint domain to oil to the latest threat to all of mankind, the Impending Ice Age all in one thread. Who is the mastermind of this? Will we ever get back to the topic, probably not but UNOWUT? Saturday was the first day of autumn, some peeps get depressed because it's the end of summer but UNOWUT?, I'm excited because it's the beginning of the home stretch, can u feel it?
tgd
September 25, 2006
Member since 07/15/2004 🔗
585 posts
what was the topic? who here is master of their domain? your eminence? hizzoner from KC? Can you recommend a good pair of snowshoes? We need to take this outside to the ....(drumroll) UNTOPIC(c). The unseason is in its death throes (really) - 33 degrees forecast for overnight on Friday at Canaan!
Roger Z
September 25, 2006
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
We did hijack this and for once, I feel bad about said hijack because it's a good topic in and of itself. I reserve other Jack topics for the Untopic. If Sharp wants to keep us posted about what's going on in Pendleton County... well, Sharp, we very much appreciate it! Keep up the good work, and sorry for bumbling around about oil.
KevR
September 26, 2006
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
let's see -- look in 1974 when the us domestic fields hit the skids, and somewhere in there OPEC createde itself -- it did so because they had so much BLOODY OIL in their fields that if they didn't ration it out in some manner, the shear amount made it nigh upon worthless... kinda like diamonds which are nigh upon worthless if debeers didn't force prices up thru a more or less worldwide monopoly (try telling that to your fiance!)

anyway, as the price rises it allows us to squeeze more out of older fields -- apply new technology and so forth to bring in previously thought unreachable fields, but it'll never bring back the age of stickin' pipes in the ground and catching as much as you can without much work... (we are still partially in this era)
those days be fast approaching an end unless someone finds some new massive reserves... maybe in iraq which i read has never been truly exploitd properly by the old regime...
or maybe some place else in the world.

BUT its all been looked over pretty thoroughly, now we nearing & end to those big fields we've been using for so long, and it means getting down to the harder stuff...

(and trying out new crazy ideas for squeezing more out of the old fields)

BUT that just means the cost goes up... that baseline cost (i.e it takes more work) to get the same barrel of oil just is higher ...
fb
September 27, 2006
Member since 03/16/2006 🔗
68 posts
usa today (9/25/06), lead cover story is 'voters get a say on land rights- state laws limit high court ruling'.
notable quote- 'people work very hard to own a small business, a home or property. The govt is there to protect the right to the property, not to take it away.'

Has a graphic on states actions on property rights- graph indicates wv legislature has passed law to limit eminent domain. probably a longshot but u never know.
KevR
September 27, 2006
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
Maybe WV should vote itself out of the rest of us, you know over states rights. Heck, vote yourself in, vote yourself out! Right?
I mean it certainly *seems* reasonable, I can't imagine anyone would mind...
fb
September 27, 2006
Member since 03/16/2006 🔗
68 posts
no matter what happens, ol man 'sheets' Byrd, would have some loony position or statement. even some of his supporters think he is really 'losing it upstairs' sometimes. like him or not, that guy knows how to bring home the bacon.
bawalker
September 27, 2006
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
Yup, she sure knows how to bring home the bacon... the bacon stolen from needier people.

Byrd is a decrepit old man who is not god, is not a leader, and is nothing more than a glutton out to glorify his own name. He needs to be put down in a nursing home where he can live out his years with others who are mentally loosing it. It's a well known fact that Byrd's aids in his office run the show. Byrd is just a figurehead anymore for the actual voting in congress. Nothing more... nothing less.
bawalker
September 27, 2006
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
For those of you who are interested in getting in on the first wave of hearing controversy regarding the Lost River Dams (savelostriver.org) then I've got something for everyone to listen to.

Our group just started airing the first of much more controversial stuff to come on local radio station out of Moorefield. This is to let the public know what in the world is going on... even the public in this county that is unaware such unethical and virtually immoral behavior is going on by the 'elected' officials.

www.savelostriver.org/slr_radio_ad_1.mp3

It's also posted on the savelostriver.org page too.

For those who are curious, yes that is me at the end speaking.
fb
September 27, 2006
Member since 03/16/2006 🔗
68 posts
ba, sharp- i couldda had a v8!! - just thought of an idea. my neighbor in nova is a reporter (shes done many big stories, including the malvo shooting trials). im gonna call her and try to get u some major attention on your issues. ok if she emails u on here? if u want, pm me and i will pass on your info.
im out the door now to the shoe with my kids for the fall fest wknd, ill call her on the way up.
ive also got a friend who worked at DOJ and he knows the major players at the big boy networks- ill try him too.
sharp1
September 27, 2006
Member since 09/19/2006 🔗
14 posts
fb, yes thank you! I can't figure out how to send a PM. Please PM me and I'll figure out how to get back to you with private info. Again. Thank you very much. PSD meeting last night was depressing. Pendleton Bank gave even more money to the project. Do you know that Snowshoe is 'guaranteeing' the loan earmarked for 'easements and property aquisition'? But if you ask Snowshoe, they have nothing to do with this project. We need help, glad to get it.
bawalker
September 27, 2006
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
THANK YOU!!!! Yes please contact the reporter and anyone else you know. In regards to the SaveLostRiver.org site and our efforts to stop the dam... we have so MUCH controversial evidence against these politicians that... it's astounding. I would love to speak with anyone you can put me in contact with. I'll meet with them and even buy them dinner. I know sharp1 and myself with our respective but nearly identical issues need help on getting the word out. Anyone... reporter, news, tv, radio, paper anything will help.

Like I said, for our issue, we have SOO MUCH incriminating evidence that it's not even funny. It would take a few days with someone to go through it all. Please see the private PM about my info.
KevR
September 27, 2006
Member since 01/27/2004 🔗
786 posts
I scanned the first page of the site. I think it could say right from the get go why "you" are so against the project -- you know a "people" story. Something to grab the reader's attention -- and then launch into the invective about the politicians...
I just think you message could be clearer and it should be in the first few sentences to get people (potentially) more sympathetically in...

anyway, that's just an editorial style comment...
bawalker
September 27, 2006
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
Thanks for the comments. I'm getting ready to redo the site, and because I'm soaked in the details and all of the dirty stuff that is happening, sometimes I loose track of the perspective of what the site shows to others. Let me know what you, as someone who isn't involved in this, would find to be the most effective for the site. How pictures are put, what wording, phrases, etc are something that would catch your attention.

This is something that I'm all ears for.
DWW
September 29, 2006
Member since 03/11/2004 🔗
144 posts
Sharp1 - Trying to steer this discussion back on topic after reading the latest editorials in the poco times. It seems that me that the public consensus is broad against the proposed location on the Sharp property. It also seems that a shotgun approach is being taken to fight against it. I think there are probably many folks who would like to fight but aren't quite sure how to go about it and aren't willing to take the time to write 6 letters to 6 different people. Is there any way to focus/concentrate this effort on trying to influence the one person in the position of actually having the power to influence this decision? With government and business, it is easy to hide behind the "committee". But who is the one person who has the most power to influence this process. What does that person have at stake? With the November elections coming up, we might have some leverage, and should target him or her.
DavidFleming
September 30, 2006
Member since 09/28/2006 🔗
52 posts
Hi folks,

SaveTheSharpFarm.com is updated with recent news articles, including the letter from Dave Sharp to The Pocahontas Times:

Seven Recent Articles

Also, there is now an ad on the main page of The Pocahontas Times which links to SaveTheSharpFarm.com.

The RSS feed is updated. Thanks, and take care. :-)

DF
tommo
September 30, 2006
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
303 posts
OK, I know I'm opening myself to flaming of untold intensity due to the emotional pleas involved here, but there are usually two sides to every issue, and no one seems to be even acknowledging the non-emotional, fact based issues. I have no intimate knowledge of either project beyond the web sites presented, but in both cases some reasonable questions present themselves:

For Sharp Farm:

Does a valid need to responsible waste water treatment exist in Pocahontas County, both for existing and approved development in and around Snowshoe/Slatyfork?

If such a need exists, is it not a fundamental responsiblity of our Government to build such public infrastructure?

If these two questions can be answered with a Yes, then the question becomes "where should such a facility be located to best serve the widest public need at the most reasonable/responsible public cost?"

There is much material about NOT building the treatment plant on the Sharp farm site; Ok, then where, specifically, should the facility be constructed and why? It is not enough to just complain about public policy decisions without offering justifiable alternatives.

Simply telling Snowshoe to build it themselves on their own property is not a valid response unless the owners and developers are also permitted to withdraw from the county.

As to the Lost River dams, it certainly looks like the dams may be unneccesary from a flood control perspective, but impoundments can have public benefits beyond flood control. Is that the case here? There certainly is not much compelling information in showing that officials involved in the process also receive Dept. of Agriculture subsidies. What about the others on the list? What is the relationship between ag subsidies and decisions on the dam???? Do any of those opposed to the dam receive Ag or other subsidy money?

Virtually all public infrastructure projects involve the purchase of private land to be placed into public service. Granted, the current owners may not want to sell - at that particular time - and that can result in taking by eminent domain. However, is it not true that E.D. laws ALSO require compensation at market rates? Can the proposed sales price be challenged? For all the emotional hue and cry about "attachment" to the property, at what price would every single one of those objecting sell? "Not at any price" is not a valid response.

It's standard practice today, esp. on talk radio, to respond to ideas by personal attacks on those supporting the opposing view. Such ad hominem attacks are logical fallacies and are ultimately unmoving to an educated electorate.

IMHO, if you want to prevail in both of these situations, you should focus on ALTERNATIVE SOLUTIONS to the problems or FACTUALLY invalidating the existence of the problem itself. Mere opposition to the situation does not constitute invalidation of the problem. Likewise, simply attacking the proposed solutions and the people behind them will almost never work, especially in the long run.

OK - my helmet is on...
Roger Z
September 30, 2006
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Tommo- did you read Sharp's original post? While he doesn't directly answer your questions (since they hadn't been posted yet ), I think the story he outlines hits at a lot of them.

Quote:

Simply telling Snowshoe to build it themselves on their own property is not a valid response unless the owners and developers are also permitted to withdraw from the county.





Well, actually, if they're the ones responsible for the waste (which from everything we've heard, they are), then it makes no sense for anyone BUT Snowshoe to build and finance the sewage facility.

Quote:

is it not true that E.D. laws ALSO require compensation at market rates?




Yes, that is true, but there are two caveats to that. First, some governments- such as New Jersey- are notorious for low-balling or factoring in "costs" to "clean up" the property into their calculations. Second, since the government has to pay fair market value (or some semblance thereof), and the government generally doesn't want to spend too much money purchasing land, they usually target low-value properties (which they often define as "blighted"). The fair market value of a house in Anacostia, where they are building the new baseball stadium, for instance, is a pittance compared to what they would need to pay for new housing. One proposal I've seen that I really like is that they change the eminent domain from "fair market value" payments to "replacement value" payments. That is, the government would have to pay you the cost of your relocated house. It can't simply be a blanket payment for whatever you can find, obviously (otherwise everyone would move to Potomac and live La Vida Loca), but a formula could be worked out that deals with the difficulty people have in relocation.

Apart from those two points, I'd strongly urge you to go back over and read Sharp's original post. If you still think something is missing by all means ask it, but again I think a lot of what you're looking for is there.
tommo
September 30, 2006
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
303 posts
Quote:

Well, actually, if they're the ones responsible for the waste (which from everything we've heard, they are), then it makes no sense for anyone BUT Snowshoe to build and finance the sewage facility




By that flawed logic, every development everywhere would need to build their own sewerage system. And those of us on septic systems should not have to pay for or participate in the cost of any sewerage systems. By this same logic, no one should have to pay for water treatment plants, or bus systems or stadiums or school systems or any other public works project that does not 100 percent directly benefit them. Sorry, but that's not the way our society works. It is likewise flawed to say that Snowshoe, the resort company, should have to fully fund this themselves. The DEVELOPERS at Snowshoe do not produce the sewage, the homeowners do, and every single one of them pays county property tax. They will also pay a sewerage fee.

Every city, county and town that has a waste water treatment plant had to get the land from somewhere and, due to NIMBYism, that increasingly means through litigation and eminent domain seizures. In this case, they have apparently identified a site that, while dear to some, is owned by an out of state person, near a significant water course (pretty much a requirement for a waste water plant), and lies downstream from the waste water source. (Check it out - waste treatment plants are always located on a water course downstream of the waste source. It may be true that its not the ideal location, but rarely does such a site exist. It does seem that the karst and limestone formations should be a concern.

As to the taking, I agree that the price is often low. And, yes, Governments do often target blighted areas. That certainly makes sense to me. Seems rather desirable, in fact. Unfortunately, price issues frequently end up in litigation and I agree that a "replacement cost" approach may be better. Of course, the "replacement cost" of a blighted property may not be as much as the owner thinks it's worth.

An interesting side note in this regard is the concept of the value of a view or a unique historical or recreational amenity. Some juristictions are now apply tax levies based the the appraised value of such things. By extension, any taking by ED should then compensate for that as well.

In my opinion, the major flaw in the approach being pursued to "save" the properties in question is that the appeal is based on the idea that people should rally to the cause because it is "right." Unfortunately, our system - that being capitalism - is fundamentally based on self interest. In this case, if I am a resident, my self interest may be best served by the proposed plan. To wit, if I own property somewhere nearby, then, well, better on the Sharp's property than on mine. The same psychology is at work in many, many areas. We all feel for the person who gets a terrible disease, for instance, but at some level we are glad it's not us. Same holds true with these issues. Or, what happens if the plant is NOT built. Hmmmmm. Sewage flows down the mountain and pollutes the river. Or my well. Or, heaven forbid, they build the thing near ME. That sucks. I think I'll let them build it where its proposed.

So, if you want to effectively combat something like this, you need to fully show a viable alternative that BENEFITS more people. Simply crying foul about the current plan is rarely enough to stop it.

I have read all of the material, including the letters on the web site. And I just re-read Sharp1's rebuttal posting. It does seem that the Sharp farm may not be the ideal site for a wastewater treatment plant. But, it also appears to meet many criteria that make it a logical choice. It is particularly interesting to me that it's relatives of the owner that appear to be leading the fight, not the owner herself. I also did not see much specific information on the proposed alternative site and why, other than the fact that it is already publicly owned, that it is inherently better, although there were some specious and sarcastic statements about complete lack of karst after evaluation by every expert in the world. Does it actually have better geology, or worse? Would it significantly lower the cost of the project or increase it? Would the neighbors of that site accept the plant or fight harder? I do think the opposition to the plant location by the various environmental and sportmans organizations is significant, but some of them oppose anything and everything and would rather have all of Snowshoe bulldozed flat anyway. Again, there needs to be a public benefit to the alternative plan (and there may, in fact, be many in this case) in order to change opinions. Such benefit is not found in the case as currently presented.
Roger Z
September 30, 2006
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
2,181 posts
Quote:

By that flawed logic, every development everywhere would need to build their own sewerage system.




No, you didn't understand what I was writing. If SNOWSHOE is the SOLE reason that this sewer facility needs to be built, then they should pay for it. The reason is because they are the only marginal cost on the system. All developments should pay their marginal costs- and usually they do. It's called an "impact fee". When people, developers, or homeowners don't pay their marginal cost, it's called an "externality". This is not flawed logic, this is a basic economic concept. The fact that people would be happy to make other people pay their costs is the reason that self-interest is regulated in markets through property rights (which are almost necessarily backed by some type of public or private contractual enforcement mechanism). For instance, I can't make you pay my mortgage because the house I own is my property. I own it, I bear the costs, the risks and the rewards (I hope) that come with ownership. If I decided to subdivide my house into four living units, I should have to pay for the additional sewage. Not my neighbors. Not the town. Not the next property owner over.


Quote:

Check it out - waste treatment plants are always located on a water course downstream of the waste source.




Um, no. Many developments rely on pump systems, and many of them are required by the towns to build it themselves, even though the land- designated by the town for development- could not be developed otherwise. I saw one specifically down in Blacksburg- a $400,000 cost to the developer and hence to future property owners.
sharp1
October 1, 2006
Member since 09/19/2006 🔗
14 posts
Tommo, Thanks for your posts on this subject.

From New Jersey to Colorado to South Carolina, developers are required to submit plans for infrastructure before they place the first brick. Some states require, after the plans have been approved, that the developer build the infrastructure first. After all is in place, some are required to then hand the infrastructure over to the state.

Let's talk about NIMBYism. (Not In My Backyard). There will be millions of gallons of human waste in open tanks in our Front Yard. Our Bed and Breakfast and 122-year-old Country Store will be no more.

The officials had every intention of plopping that sewer plant on our karts-ridden land with no geological study, with the exception of 20 core drillings, 11 of which did not even go down to bedrock. Two years later and, yes, every karst expert in the world has proclaimed this land on the Sharp farm to be not suitable for a sewer treatment plant. How about dangerous? This is not a sarcastic statement. World recognized experts in the field of karst hydrology were engaged.

The designers testified under oath that they were not aware the Big Spring Fork ran dry. They testified that the plant was designed for 24 hour manned operation but the same company's Operation and Maintenance division was not aware of this so they engineered the plant for daytime shifts.

The effluent will be discharged into a dry, karst riverbed. Do you know that the Big Spring Fork may be the last remaining river in West Virginia with naturally reproducing Native (state fish) Brook trout, brown trout and rainbow trout?

Your cold, calculated view of the world might hack it in New York City, but this is a bucolic wonderland of pioneer farms and scenic beauty beyond imagining. The state and federal governments own more that 60 percent of Pocahontas County. There are thousands of acres of state owned land offered by the governor for a transfer fee of $1.00 to put the sewer plant nestled away in some back 'holler' on public land. Why on earth would any civilized entity choose to erase 8 generations of history and the hopes and dreams of future generations, endanger the precious wildlife and put a stinking plant right next to the scenic highway to greet the patrons of West Virginia's premier business, tourism? It simply is not necessary.

The 'out of state person' (landowner) you are referring to was born about 100 feet from the proposed site. She is retired and caring for an ailing husband. Her heart and soul is in Slatyfork. Our family cemetery, with the founders of this community, is on her property. If you don't believe she cares you are mistaken. The other family member living on the property happened to be 92 years old. So that 'other relative' an eighth generation family member, is charged with looking after a proud heritage.

You indicate this site must be the proper place, even if not ideal, because it was 'chosen' by officials. And you say it is by a significant water course. Wrong! This river is dry 9 months out of the year due to the karst which causes the water to flow underground. And you imply it must be the best place because it is downstream. Curiously, just 1/2 mile further down, is the bottom of the drainage basin. The Big Spring Fork joins with the Old Field Fork to form the Upper Elk River. There is significantly more water flow there and one million more gallons per day available wasteload allocation. In fact, the engineers testified under oath that this was the assumed to be location of the plant.

There is so much more involved in the taking of someone's property other than the price paid for it. Thankfully, finally, the Ohio Supreme Court in their Norwood decision acknowledged that you also take the blood, sweat and tears and the hopes and dreams. They did not buy it. They stopped that project.

What was that Norwood case all about? A municipality was struggling with bills coming in to pay their workers. What was their solution? Well, there was this mall. The owners of the mall wanted to expand. Norwood condemned about 100 houses to allow this to happen. 100 cases of NIMBY. But that's ok? 100 family's hopes and dreams bulldozed for a mall? Why? So the municipality could have a higher tax base.

Your evaluation of human nature, "Better them than us" may hold some water, but, thankfully, it does not seem to be the case here. Developers who will stand to make millions have been in to sign the petition to move the plant (not stop Snowshoe and not stop the sewer project, just move the plant). 100's of Snowshoe's own property owners sent in signed petitions. Snowshoe business owners have been in. 'Regular folk' like us seem to understand it, too. It seems all but a handful of politicians and the top brass at Snowshoe want the thing moved.

The big question here is, why would a 1.6 billion dollar company spend over 200 million dollars building homes for immediate resale and not remedy their failing infrastructure? Were they not aware of this problem? I think they were. In 2003 they were sued by the DEP.

Our system may be built on self-interest, but you have omitted the human soul from the equation. The people here DO want to do what is right. They have digested the information coming from all angles and have decided this plant is not going to happen on the Sharp farm. Viable alternatives abound, but it is the responsibility of officials to properly evaluate them. However, the alternative suggestions by experts in their respective fields will soon be formally offered. The fact that the Sharp farm site is not safe or desirable is reason enough to put the brakes on its selection.

The criteria you refer to as making this site the logical choice is just simply flawed. How you could read the information about this project and claim that a benefit for moving the plant is not there is curious.

And discounting the conservation groups involved in this project is baloney. Do you really think they all want to bulldoze Snowshoe? If you read the reports from their hired experts your heart would sink. You might be surprised to know that many of these groups subscribe to a pragmatic approach, understanding that development is a powerful force and that the lesser of evils may be the route to go with this project. The other course of action would be to call for a moratorium on building at Snowshoe. I don't believe this has been proposed.

You have a right to your opinion. You seem willing to accept the status quo and assume much. I invite you to come down here for a taste of God's gift to the world and you might change your tune.

By the way, Intrawest owns a mountaintop resort in Vernon New Jersey called Mountain Creek. That town required Intrawest to pay for a percentage of their new regional system (required, once again, because of building without proper attention to infrastructure). And where is the sewer plant to be located? At the TOP of the mountain. Yes, the relatively small amount of sewage from the original residents of the town at the base of the mountain will be pumped uphill.

And, I can't resist (and this is meant in good fun), but they are looking for a companion for 'Debbie Downer' on Saturday Night Live. I think you might be right for that gig.
tommo
October 1, 2006
Member since 01/16/2004 🔗
303 posts
"Impact fees" are controversial and the subject of much debate in many localities. Any generalization of what they are or are not is invalid as they must be applied to a specific situation in a specific jurisdiction. Please check Findlaw, Lexus or other reliable legal resources and you can easily verify the wide descrepancy in how these fees can be applied. For example, in some jursidictions, impact fees are prohibited by statute from being used to upgrade existing facilities that are either failiing or overburdened. That appears to at least partially be the case here. In other cases, they go to the General Fund, and in others they are targeted to specific needs such as schools, parks or roads. I am not familiar with the applicable West Virginia law or local ordinance as to what would apply in this case.

Moreover, I believe it is more accurate to say that, in the case of sewerage and water supply systems, those either seeking or being compelled to connect (which that frequently happens to protect ground and surface water quality) are assessed a connection charge. These also go by many names, such as Equivilent Residental Units (eru's), ERIs, frontage fees, and so forth. Typically these pay for the additional infrastructure costs associated with use of the system. In addition, actual usage virtually always charged. I fully agree that the unit owners at Snowshoe and any other user should exclusively pay these fees. I don't believe that I stated or implied otherwise.

As to this specific case, I do not pretend to have, and stated repeatedly that I do not have, specific knowledge of the merits or shortcomings of the selected site. Indeed, I believe I acknowledge several times that there appears to be significant shortcomings based on the information as presented. And, Sharp1, I hope you prevail in your efforts to change things, if only because there may be a better alternative. Moreover, I believe active citizen participation in public process provides the foundation of our country. However, I also see public employees as part of the public and understand that we - the citizenry (is that a word?) - call on them often to make difficult decisions on our behalf that almost always anger somebody. I simply refuse to see a conspiricy behind every decision.

As to me being a good partner for Debbie Downer, well, I like to think I'm quite the opposite of that. My response here was to try to incite thought about the issue of public infrastructure without all the emotional tugs. Yes, I'm sure its very bucolic, peaceful, gentle and so forth in the upper Elk watershed. But it is no doubt the same in the other proposed sites, especially if it's only a half mile away. We used to, for example, own a small farm in one of those WV Back Holler's. So, while you blithely state to just put it there, each and every one of those sites is special to somebody.

Again, I think you mistake my desire to look at all sides of the equation while removing the flowery, emotional appeal as saying that I agree with the decision to build on the Sharp farm. To the contrary, I believe I suggested, repeatedly, that if you wish to prevail that an emphasis on verifiable facts and the benefits of an alternative plan will carry much more weight than the emotional appeal. When an emotional appeal is made, an emotional response it what you'll get, e.g. well, that stinks but its better than on my property.

As an avid conservationist, I do hope a better solution can be found. I have backpacked and paddled many, many days in the mountains of WV and agree that they are very special. Moreover, I greatly dislike having so much effluent being dumped into WV rivers, especially the more pristine whitewater rivers in the Mon. Unfortunately, situations such as this are increasingly common in virtually every rural/recreational area of the country that has seen rapid growth over the last 2 decades. The mistake here, imho, has been in letting Snowshoe build so many houses on top of Cheat mountain in the first place. But now that that is done, the wastewater problem has to be dealt with somehow, and that means a wastewater treatment plant. I can only hope it is built in the most appropriate place available after all relevant facts are responsibly considered.
fishnski
October 1, 2006
Member since 03/27/2005 🔗
3,530 posts
"They were not aware that the Big spring fork ran dry"..."Do you know that the Big spring fork may be the last remaning naturally producing trout stream in WV?....Do the the trout taste as dry as the dust on the DRY river bed?? Bottom line is that hopefully they can find an alternative spot, because Snowshoe is a must where as The Sharp Farm isn't, sad to say. Who couldn't feel bad for the Sharps..But when it is all said & Done The masses overrule the minority.....Snowshoe will survive!.....PS What does the Sharp Farm produce?
sharp1
October 1, 2006
Member since 09/19/2006 🔗
14 posts
Hello fishnski.

Yes, the river runs dry. The native Brook, Rainbow and Brown trout hide in pools and underground cavities in this karst-ridden river. It is a miracle of nature, but they do survive. One of the largest cold-water springs in WV is on our farm and the tributary it creates provides some sanctuary as well at times. Sewer pipes were designed to trench right through this spring.

"But when it is all said & Done The masses overrule the minority.....Snowshoe will survive!....."

Of course Snowshoe will survive, and so will the Sharps. If you really believe that the masses rule, then the plant MUST be moved to accomodate them, because thousands of locals have signed the petition to move the sewer plant. (Not stop Snowshoe, the sewer project or progress) Hundreds of Snowshoe property owners signed individual petitions and took the time and trouble to send them in. We were overwhelmed. Sadly, it is but a few who 'rule' and they are in powerful positions.

"PS What does the Sharp Farm produce?"

We invite you to stray five miles from your destination and come for a visit. I will show you this magnificent place and you will not need to ask that question again. You will understand.
sharp1
October 2, 2006
Member since 09/19/2006 🔗
14 posts
Tommo,

Thanks for your input.

"We used to, for example, own a small farm in one of those WV Back Holler's. So, while you blithely state to just put it there, each and every one of those sites is special to somebody."

Just so you know that it was never a matter of saying "just put it there". The point is, since the governor offered any suitable state-owned land (the state owns a big chunk of Pocahontas County) the plant can be put in a place that would not force the evacuation of anyone.

In a pragmatic approach (vs. stopping the project, progress or Snowshoe) much money and investigation has gone into that 'other site' down the river. Would that site still affect the Sharps? Yes. The smell will undoubtedly permeate the air on our mountain property. But, locating it away from our 122 year country store and bed and breakfast will allow us our continued way of life and our livelihood. While that and any other site needs to be studied (including the Sharp farm site...still incomplete) it does seem that most conservation groups agree this site is likely karst free and the lesser of all evils.

If it is possible to not ruin the lives any citizen why on earth would there be any question as to the placement of this plant? This is not New York City.

And on the subject of pristine rivers. Did you know the Shavers Fork River is in peril? The federal government is involved in a multi-million dollar program to rescue this river. Why and how did Snowshoe Mountain Resort dam up the headwaters of Shavers Fork for a lake? The original purpose being for drinking water and snowmaking, this water will now be siphoned up and over Cheat Mountain and flushed into the Elk River watershed. How can that be good for either watershed?

Your observations and constructive criticism will be digested and acted upon. Thank you.
DavidFleming
October 5, 2006
Member since 09/28/2006 🔗
52 posts
October 5 News Updates:

Cooling System Needed, 3 New Letters-To-Editor

http://www.SaveTheSharpFarm.com/news/index.php

Thanks!

DF
bawalker
October 5, 2006
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
David - I wanted to let you know I'll be printing out those letters and sending them in.

In other news, I updated the www.savelostriver.org website this evening. Cleaned things up, the information about the illegal and unethical nature of the dams is now in place. Pictures are going up, and a brief article on the health situation of one land owner who attended the NRCS public meeting is there. It mentions how when trying to reason with the public/NRCS officials and their inept stonewalling, this individual had to be attended to by ambulance staff nearby.

If anyone is interested, and would like to be added to our public news email mailing list, let me know.
DavidFleming
October 9, 2006
Member since 09/28/2006 🔗
52 posts
Hi bawalker, thanks - let me know if you already mailed any letters and I'll update the "confirmed mailed" count.

Yes, I've seen savelostriver.org. Very disturbing what the developers are trying to do there as well. So sad. You can go ahead and add me to that news emailing list you mentioned. fleming42@gmail.com.

Okay take care bawalker. :-)

DF
bawalker
October 9, 2006
Member since 12/1/2003 🔗
1,547 posts
Something I came across is that have you checked with the Army Corp of Engineers regarding their stance on this? They are the lead people in issuing permits for something as a sewage treatment facility and have to review ALL DATA. To them the facts matter the most. If you can show the karst ground is unstable and unwater worthy... they might be able to assist. The Army Corp of Engineers division that controls this region of WV is from Pittsburgh I believe.
sharp1
October 9, 2006
Member since 09/19/2006 🔗
14 posts
The proposed site is an alluvial fan (deposits of flood material and soil) that was laid down in the path of the Big Spring Fork River so that the river is forced to take a wide left hand turn and circle around it. This 'fan' is the sewer plant site. How was this field created? By the Middle Mountain stream that has been depositing this matter in the path of the river for eons. What did the Army Corp of Engineers do? They claimed jurisdiction. That can be bothersome for officials trying to get a sewer project in. The Corp sometimes requires an Environmental Impact Study and that takes a couple of years and lots of money. What happenned two weeks later? The Corp withdrew its jurisdiction. Funny, they now say the very stream that created this site does not exist. Go figure.
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