Snowshoe asks PSC to cancel Rigby planning
Snowshoe Mountain, Inc. asked the Public Service Commission (PSC) to cancel evaluation of a multi-plant sewage system to serve the resort and surrounding areas. The corporation and five Linwood-area landowners favor a single-plant, centralized system, which they claim will provide more capacity for future development.
The corporation and landowners filed a motion with the PSC on July 11, requesting the agency withdraw its permission for the Pocahontas Public Service District (PSD) to conduct a six-month evaluation of a decentralized sewage system. The brief claims the PSD is not abiding with a PSC directive to provide the same level of sewage service as Thrasher Engineering, Inc.'s previously approved single-plant design.
On May 10, the PSC granted permission to the PSD to study and prepare cost estimates for a decentralized sewage system. PSD contract engineer David Rigby is in charge of completing the study. Rigby previously proposed a three-plant system with facilities to be located at Silver Creek, Snowshoe Village and Linwood.
The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) imposed additional conditions requiring Rigby to evaluate a two-plant solution and forbidding a "phased approach" to achieving sufficient capacity for growth.
Attorney John Melick filed the brief on behalf of the resort and landowners. Melick refers to statements made during a recent PSD meeting; statements reported in a Charleston Daily Mail article and blog posts attributed to a PSD board member to support his argument that the PSD will not obey the PSC order regarding sewage system capacity.
During a June 28 PSD meeting and work session: PSD board member David Litsey questioned usage data that Thrasher Engineering used to develop its centralized plan; Rigby stated he wanted to conduct public meetings to determine the extent of public sewer service necessary for the Snowshoe area and board chairman Tom Shipley said that public meetings would "determine what the public wants."
In a July 5 Charleston Daily Mail article, Shipley reportedly stated that multiple plants will be built and the article quotes Shipley referring to a centralized design in the past tense, although a decentralized, multi-plant design has not been approved.
In a July 6 blog post at the Charleston Daily Mail website, a poster, identifying himself as "David Litsey," posted the following comment:
"It is of great concern to some ratepayers of Pocahontas County Public Service District that Mr. DeBerry's [Frank DeBerry, chief operations officer at Snowshoe Mountain, Inc.] growth projections may be excessively speculative. Pipes in the ground must be paid for and speculation does not pay for them. Mr. DeBerry's preferred plan has mile after mile of pipes with few or no customers. Hoping for new customers?"
Melick filed a discovery request with the PSC to determine if Litsey posted the comment.
According to Melick, these recent statements from Rigby and PSD board members indicate their intent to recalculate the sewage service area and not provide the same extent of service as Thrasher Engineering's single-plant design.
"The District's recent conduct unlawfully exceeds the [PSC] order and the WVDEP letter. WWMI [Rigby's engineering company] may only address alternative treatment options because, as the commission noted at page 11 of the order, most aspects of the controversy, including where and to whom the District is to serve - have already been resolved," the attorney wrote.
"Respectfully, if the commission lets the District get away with ignoring this aspect of the order (and the WVDEP letter), then the commission might as well tear up each of its orders in [previous relevant cases] and stop wasting time attempting to hold the Pocahontas County Public Service District accountable to anything," the brief continues.
Melick's motion requests that the PSC "rescind its authorization of the District's agreement with WWMI and proceed to seek the appointment of a receiver." The PSD has until July 21 to file a response to the motion.