Green Bank man files petition to stop Meck expansion
A Green Bank man has petitioned the Circuit Court of Pocahontas County to stop the transfer of land in the Green Bank Industrial Park to the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation and, eventually, to Jacob Meck, who already leases three acres on that property.
In his complaint, Jerome Heinemann asks for a "judicial declaratory review of all activities conducted to date," including three acres Meck already leases and land leased to Interstate Hardwoods at the East Fork Industrial Park.
Heinmann argues in his petition that the property should only be transferred as the result of voter approval or a public auction.
He asks for injunctive relief "to prevent the further giving away of public land held in common to a private-corporation, with little to no adequate consideration, for private for profit motives and not for public purposes." He further asks the court to restore all public land and property that has "not adhered to the legal requirements" set forth in West Virginia Code.
Meck operates a septic tank pumping and portable outhouse business, as well as a construction business and a trash disposal business on the three acres he now leases. According to plans he submitted to the Pocahontas County Commission, Meck plans to construct a 100,000 gallon above ground storage tank and six pits, to be developed over a period of time.
The GVEDC voted last Thursday to allow its real estate committee to begin negotiations with Meck. The committee will report back to the full board, and ask for action, if it reaches an agreement with Meck.
Prior to the construction of Pocahontas County High School, the 33-acre tract was donated to the Pocahontas County Board of Education for the possible site of Green Bank High School. The property was transferred to the Pocahontas Development Authority in the 1990s and then to the county commission in the last 10 years when the PDA was declared defunct.
The county commission can only transfer property to another public entity.
The Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation has been the designated economic development agency for the Pocahontas, Greenbrier and Monroe county region since 1994, as directed by the West Virginia Legislature. Each county pays a per capita fee to the GVEDC; Pocahontas County's fee is generally in the neighborhood of $11,000.
Its meetings and financial records are open to the public, it adheres to the West Virginia Open Meetings Act, and it is audited by the State Auditor's Office.
The industrial park model of economic development-build it and they will come-was popular in the mid-1990s. Pocahontas County has three industrial parks at Frank, Green Bank and Edray.
Interstate Hardwoods has leased a portion of East Fork Industrial Park in Frank; Meck has leased three acres at Green Bank and the Edray Industrial Park stands empty.
Heinemann's petition claims that the Green Bank area is a wetland and a "Native America" site, but no archeological study has been performed.
A similar study was done approximately 10 years ago, and a rare grass was found on a portion of the property. Meck's proposed lease is not near the Manna grass found at Green Bank.
The property sits just south of the town of Green Bank, and is across the road from the Green Bank Clinic, Sheets GMC dealership and, according to the petition, a proposed new restaurant. The Green Bank Senior Citizen Center is also situated across the road.
As part of his pleadings, Heinemann submitted a citizen petition signed by nearly 100 people who oppose Meck's plans.
"We are in no way opposed to creating jobs in Pocahontas County," the petition states. "We think you should consider what Mr. Meck's proposal would do to our community and the remaining acreage that is intended to bring jobs to Pocahontas County."
Meck employs about a dozen people at his operations in Green Bank, while 25 people are employed at Interstate Hardwood's operation at Frank.
The case is set for hearing April 11.
Contact Pamela Pritt: firstname.lastname@example.org