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Commission says no to sewer plant plan

January 16, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The Jefferson County Commissioners decided Thursday not to support a controversial $25 million sewer plant proposed along Cattail Run and voted to set up a meeting with county sewer officials to express their concerns.

The action came after a state agency reviewing the proposal said it has identified 24 deficiencies in the project.

One deficiency outlined by a committee of the West Virginia Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council is that the Cattail Run proposal did not evaluate the possible expansion of other existing facilities, including the City of Charles Town's sewer plant.

The council's Sewer Technical Review Committee also made suggestions on how reports for the proposal can be made more clear and said the Cattail Run proposal does not take into account small private sewer treatment plants used to serve individual subdivisions.

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The Cattail Run plan does not discuss the condition of the so-called "package" plants and which ones would be replaced by the Cattail project.

"It's pretty clear there are serious concerns on the state level. I think we all agree it's not going to work," Commissioner Rusty Morgan said during the commission's regular meeting Thursday morning.

Commissioner James G. Knode was the only commissioner to vote against not supporting the Cattail Run project.

After a long discussion about how to proceed, the commissioners agreed to request a meeting with members of the Jefferson County Public Service District, the agency proposing the plant, to discuss their concerns about the proposal.

The public service district has proposed building the plant along Cattail Run near the point where it empties into the Shenandoah River east of Charles Town.

The plant is needed to serve new housing developments popping up in the area north of U.S. 340 between Harpers Ferry, W.Va., and Charles Town, said Wilbur Smith, who is the public service district's engineer.

But some county residents have expressed concerns about the project, such as why it is being proposed when the county is in the process of putting together a long-range plan about how it wants to grow in coming years.

If state funds are being used to construct a sewer plant, the state Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council must review the project, said Susanne Lawton, general manager of the public service district. The public service district is considering seeking state grants to help pay for the plant, Lawton said.

Lawton said Thursday it is not unusual for the state Infrastructure and Jobs Development Council to raise issues about a project. It is rare for a project to get a flawless review after its initial submittal, Lawton said in a telephone interview.

"We fully expected to get questions and comments," Lawton said.

She said the fact the commissioners have requested a meeting with the public service district is "encouraging."

"We just want to provide service. We don't want to argue with anybody," Lawton said.

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