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Concerns aired over subdivision plan

June 06, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

KEARNEYSVILLE, W.Va. - An informational meeting Thursday night about a controversial subdivision that is planned for an old orchard off Paynes Ford Road grew heated at times as residents expressed fears about what would happen once dirt was disturbed at the site.

Andy Arnold, a Shepherdstown, W.Va., attorney representing a group of residents concerned about the proposed 218-home Paynes Ford Station subdivision, has said he has information showing there are high levels of DDT, arsenic and diesel fuel on the property, which straddles Berkeley and Jefferson counties.

Arnold has said Paynes Ford Station developers knew about chemicals on the property but did not tell county planning officials.

"We had to discover it. I think it's atrocious. I think you need to be reprimanded for it," Axel Carroll, who lives adjacent to the planned subdivision, told Paynes Ford Station developer Dave Ralston.

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Ralston reiterated his previous comments that such information cannot be submitted to planning officials.

Thursday's public meeting was held at Grace Reformed United Church of Christ on W.Va. 480.

While some soil and groundwater testing at the site has "detected areas of impact," state Department of Environmental Protection officials and other environmental experts working on the project say more in-depth testing of soil at the site needs to be conducted to determine if any cleanup measures have to be conducted.

Franco Posa, who lives next to the Paynes Ford Station property, said fish turn up dead in a pond on his property every time there is a heavy rain.

Posa, who has a background in physics and has done consulting work for Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md., said he thinks the fishkill is due to runoff that enters his pond.

"I can smell some of that stuff when it rains," Posa said, referring to the runoff.

Posa said he is worried about the situation worsening if dirt at the Paynes Ford Station is moved when subdivision work starts.

If Paynes Ford Station is built, Posa said he wants soil testing at his property to be conducted before, during and after the development of the subdivision.

Possible runoff problems associated with the subdivision property will be studied, but there is no guarantee that Posa's property will be tested, said Don Martin, a DEP official who attended Thursday's meeting.

While some soil testing of the site has showed the existence of arsenic, barium, lead and mercury at the subdivision property, deeper soil tests and a much greater number of them must be conducted to determine if any soil at the site needs to be removed, incinerated or dealt with in some other manner, said Jeff Mitchell, a licensed remediation specialist who has been hired by the developers to work on the project.

Carroll appeared upset over comments by DEP officials that it is too early to determine if any testing should be done on adjacent properties. Carroll presented a copy of an e-mail that was sent to him from a DEP official who said testing of water wells on adjacent properties should be conducted.

Carroll criticized the way the information about DDT, arsenic and other materials on the property came out.

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