PSD, Snowshoe begin land negotiations
The Pocahontas County Public Service District (PSD) began negotiations with Snowshoe Mountain Resort on Tuesday for the transfer of real estate required to build a new sewage treatment plant on Snowshoe Drive. The plant will occupy approximately seven acres.
After a public work session in the Seneca Lodge board room at Snowshoe Resort, the PSD went into executive session to discuss details of the land transfer.
During the work session, project engineer Ken Moran described newly-developed details of the sewage plant design for the PSD board, members of the public, Snowshoe chief operations officer Bill Rock and Snowshoe architectural committee member J.F. Hodges.ﾠ
The plant will be housed in a 220-foot by 110-foot, 17-foot high block building with taller cupolas at both ends.ﾠ The system will utilize sequencing batch reactor (SBR) technology along with sand filters, UV disinfection and discharge water chillers.
Moran displayed aerial photographs including the site layout and drawings of the building's exterior. On the site plan, Moran included an area for expansion on the back side of the plant. The engineer noted the design could be modified as desired by the board.
Rock and Hodges stated their desire that aesthetics be a major factor in the design. The executives said landscaping and building features should be incorporated to help the plant blend in with the environment near the entrance to the resort.ﾠ
Moran noted that odiferous systems of the plant would be enclosed in the building, so smell should not be a nuisance.
The Snowshoe executives said visual impact must be mitigated, as well.ﾠ
"It's the front door to the resort," Rock said. "We have an interest in moving this project forward, however, I think some more attention needs to be paid to the aesthetics. Particularly the landscaping plan, which you alluded to."
"My first preference is to make sure the landscaping is robust to such a degree that it hides the facility, if possible," he added.
Board member Tom Shipley agreed.
"Speaking as one board member on the PSD, I think it would be worth the investment, for the people who pay the rates, to invest in some mature trees instead of just little things that are expected to grow up in 20 years," he said.
"I think that aesthetics are extremely important, especially at a premier resort entrance, and we ought to do whatever is necessary to do it right."
Hodges recommended a more attractive building exterior, in addition to landscaping.
"We're looking at a two-story facility here, 17 feet out of ground," he said "Plantings aren't going to take that into account. Looking at the scope of this structure, the money is not really all in the exterior aesthetics. This is a pretty expensive building - pretty expensive interior operating apparatuses. So, a change in the outer aesthetics is not going to be a huge swing either way you take it."
Hodges asked the board to consider no-maintenance, cultured stone and artificial wood siding, commonly used at Snowshoe, to make the structure more attractive.
"Aesthetically, it will look more like a U.S. Forest Service-type structure," he said. "The wood and the stone would give it a more natural look, which is kind of our aesthetic here."
The PSD will continue to work with Snowshoe to refine an appropriate site plan and building design.
Board member Amon Tracey said the PSD would have to determine the cost of real estate before itﾠ knows how much it can spend on aesthetics.
"We need to discuss the cost of real estate soon," he said.
Rock said he had time to conduct preliminary discussions on the real estate transfer after the public work session.ﾠ The board agreed and voted to convene an executive session.
The executive session was authorized under paragraph 4(b)(9) of the West Virginia Open Governmental Proceedings Act, which allows executive sessions for certain real estate negotiations.
The PSD is currently awaiting a decision from the Department of Environmental Protection on the environmental impact of the project. If the DEP issues a Finding of No Significant Impact, the project can proceed to the Public Service Commission for final design approval, after a 30-day public notice and comment period.
Moran said he expects a decision from the DEP within the next 90 days.
The next regular meeting of the PSD is scheduled for January 26, 7 p.m. at the waterworks building on Back Mountain Road in Durbin.