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Planners question if sewer plant is good fit for Jefferson Co.

November 19, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County Planning Commission members questioned Tuesday night whether a proposed $25 million sewer plant is the "best fit" for the county.

County officials, Charles Town city officials and county residents have expressed concern publicly about the plant being proposed by the Jefferson County Public Service District.

They have questioned why the plant is being proposed when the county is reassessing its long-term growth plan, complained about a confusing 900-page report that explains the project and worried that the plant will drive up sewer bills.

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Numerous steps need to be taken for the plant to become reality, including review of the plan by the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council. The council has asked the Jefferson County Commission to support the project as part of its review process.

As part of their own review process, the commissioners asked the Jefferson County Planning Commission and the commission's advisory board to review the proposal.

During a planning commission meeting Tuesday night, commission member Mark Schiavone said the plant ignores growth boundaries in the county.

In a motion that was passed by the commission, Schiavone offered a statement for approval that reflects the commission's feelings about the plant.

In the motion, Schiavone said the planning commission realizes there is a need for expanded sewer service in the county. However, the commission believes the proposed sewer plant lacks sufficient technical and economic details and questions whether it is the "best fit" for the county, Schiavone said in his motion.

The planning commission also is concerned that it lacks tools to control growth if the plant is built at its proposed site, which is along Cattail Run where it empties into the Shenandoah River.

Susanne Lawton, general manager of the Public Service District, attended the meeting and took notes.

After the meeting, Lawton said the public service district looked at the county's current comprehensive plan in an attempt to match the sewer plant to those needs.

The comprehensive plan said sewer is needed in growth areas but did not give much guidance on the issue, Lawton said.

Jefferson County Commissioner Rusty Morgan, who is on the planning commission, said after the meeting he is not sure how the commission will react to the planning commission's statement.

"It's hard to tell. The five of us are so different," Morgan said.

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