Advertisement

Hooper concerned over growth plans following EPA decision

May 18, 2001

Hooper concerned over growth plans following EPA decision



By GEOFF BROWN / Staff Writer


Jefferson County Commissioner Al Hooper expressed concern Thursday that the federal Environmental Protection Agency's blocking of a sewage plant permit could spell trouble for county growth plans.

"This is very disconcerting to me that not only the powers in Charleston but (the EPA) will determine how we grow in Jefferson County," Hooper said Thursday at the commission's regular meeting.

At issue is a sewage treatment plant that would serve a planned 188-home Murphy's Landing subdivision south of Harpers Ferry, W.Va. The plant would discharge up to 70,000 gallons a day into Alstadt's Run, which feeds the Shenandoah River.

The development, which would be built on the scenic Murphy's Farm property, has drawn criticism from those who oppose certain county growth plans and historic preservationists. Opponents say the property is the site of a Civil War battlefield, and is considered a shrine to black civil rights leaders because it houses the foundations of John Brown's fort.

Advertisement

West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection officials this week put a hold on a permit to build the plant after the EPA filed an "interim objection" to it pending its review of the plan, said Jerry Ray, assistant chief for permits in the state DEP's Office of Water Resources.

A letter from EPA Acting Regional Administrator Thomas C. Voltaggio last week notified Allyn Turner, chief of the Office of Water Resources, that the EPA "has decided to terminate the waiver for review of the (treatment plant) permit for Murphy's Landing."

The EPA has given the state DEP a standing waiver of review for permits, meaning the state agency normally does not need to consult the EPA to grant such permits. The letter revokes that waiver for this project.

Voltaggio's letter cited the need to review the plan's compliance with the Clean Water Act. Voltaggio wrote that the state Historical Preservation Office and the National Park Service, which runs the adjacent Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, "have raised concerns relative to the effect that this project poses to historical and cultural resources of the area."

EPA spokesman Roy Seneca in Philadelphia said the "EPA basically has the right to intervene in any permit case of this type." Citizens' interests and historical preservation are considered, he said.

Hooper said Thursday he feared the EPA intervention could lead to further federal intervention and spell trouble for county growth plans.

He said he doesn't disagree with the conservationists but does disagree with federal intervention.

Christy Snider, an attorney representing the owners of Murphy's Farm, said the owners are considering their response to the EPA move.

The owners are Josephine Murphy Curtis and Karen Fuller, who live in Maryland.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|