Litsey: Snowshoe unlawfully failed to transfer land
Pocahontas Public Service District (PSD) board member David Litsey said Snowshoe Mountain, Inc. failed to convey a full five acres of land it was obligated to transfer when the PSD assumed ownership of Snowshoe's sewage assets.
During the March 29 PSD board meeting in Durbin, Litsey said Snowshoe committed "an unlawful act," by transferring just 1.9 acres, when it should have transferred five acres at the Silver Creek sewage treatment plant.
Litsey said American Resort Services, Inc. purchased five acres, known as "Parcel C," from the Mace Knob Land Company for the Silver Creek plant in 1986 or 1987.
"That remained on the records of Pocahontas County as the sewage treatment plant and is still on the records of Pocahontas County as a five-acre sewage treatment plant," he said.
Litsey said the land was subsequently conveyed to Snowshoe as a five-acre parcel, but in a transfer agreement, under which the PSD assumed ownership of Snowshoe's sewage treatment assets, the parcel was reduced to 1.9 acres.
"My position is that - that fits neatly into the definition of an unlawful act," he said. "To represent that you are going to give somebody something, that is historically recorded in the land records of Pocahontas County as a five-acre tract of land, which this one was, and then, on a back page in an appendix, have it turn out to be 1.91 acres, without public disclosure and advertisement that you are changing the acreage, is not allowed."
Litsey recommended that the board request a Public Service Commission (PSC) order, directing Snowshoe to convey the additional land. The larger parcel is important, he said, because it could allow the PSD to build a new sewage plant at Silver Creek, while keeping the old plant on-line.
The board discussed the matter and directed board attorney Chris Negley to discuss the issue with Snowshoe officials before further consideration of a letter to the PSC.
In other matters, the board voted 3-0 to request PSC approval to buy a four-month option on 12.7 acres at the confluence of Shavers Fork and Black Run for $10,000. The full purchase price of the property is $90,000 and the owner is willing to sell, according to Litsey.
Litsey said he had examined the site with Potesta and Associates, Inc. engineer Eli McCoy, who said the land could be used for construction of a polishing wetland to filter dissolved metals out of wastewater effluent. McCoy agreed to prepare a preliminary design for the wetland, on a contingency basis, according to Litsey.
In related business, McCoy, a former director of the West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, presented a revised proposal from Potesta to prepare water discharge permit renewals for the Snowshoe Village and Silver Creek sewage plants, for submission to the DEP. The board voted 3-0 to accept the proposal, at a cost of $18,420.
Potesta's work will include a translator study, identifying the amount of bioactive dissolved metals in the effluent. Potesta will train PSD employees how to collect water samples at the two locations, as part of the deal.
Water operations manager Ricky Barkley informed the board that the J.F. Allen Company, of Buckhannon, would begin work on the Bartow-Frank-Durbin water upgrade project during the first week in April.
The PSD received funding commitments of $432,000 for the project, which is intended to fix massive leakage in the B-F-D water system and save the PSD a considerable amount of money.
Wastewater manager Lloyd Coleman presented a 2011 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to the board for review. The CIP is a schedule of major repairs and purchases necessary to maintain wastewater operability.
The major item for board consideration in the 2011 CIP is a $125,000 vacuum truck, necessary for hauling waste from sewage storage tanks, including the tank at Hawthorne Village, to the Snowshoe Village treatment plant. The vacuum truck currently in operation is frequently in need of repairs, according to Coleman.
The board commended Coleman for his work on the CIP and agreed to review CIP items for consideration at the next regular meeting.
The board tabled action on requests for proposals for decommissioning and repair of the Hawthorne Village sewage system, until Negley can determine if the work is covered under the existing contract with WWMI. The development has 17 homes and 116 vacant lots and the sewer system is believed to suffer from stormwater infiltration. Sewage from the development is transported by truck to the Snowshoe Village treatment plant.
The board voted 2-1 to authorize payment of bills in the amount of $198,719.63 for the month of April. Board member Amon Tracey opposed payment because he thought a $96,255 charge from Waste Water Management, Inc. (WWMI) was excessive.
Negley said the charge was for engineering services in preparation for an April 11 hearing in Charleston, when the PSC will consider putting the Snowshoe sewage project into receivership.
Negley said he had reviewed the WWMI charges "line item by line item" and was satisfied that the billing was correct. The attorney said PSC orders to provide information had required a great deal of engineering input.
Snowshoe Mountain, Inc. and five area landowners filed the action at the PSC in August, requesting that the project be assigned to a receiver, due to alleged PSD delay and indecisiveness with the project.
The PSC hearing is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. on April 11 and will be streamed live on the Internet at www.psc.state.wv.us/webcast/default.htm.
In other business, the PSD board:
- tabled action on an employee pay raise for further consideration at a special meeting on April 6.
- tabled action on the hiring of an accountant for rate change procedures.
- approved the financial statements for March, which indicated payments of $129,310 and receipts of $69,259 under wastewater operations; and payments of $12,461 and receipts of $382 under water operations.
The PSD will conduct a special meeting on April 6, 7 p.m. at the PSD Linwood office. An agenda is posted at pocahontastimes.com. The next regular PSD meeting is scheduled for April 26, location to be announced.