Save the Sharp Farm of Pocahontas County
History and heritage in Slatyfork, West Virginia.
Welcome To

The Foul Stench of Eminent Domain

May 24, 2007

March 4, 2008: We won! The eminent domain controversy is over. This website remains "as-was" to serve as a testament to the hard work that a lot of people put in over the past few years. Let us remember the lessons learned from this struggle.

The Sharp family of Slatyfork, West Virginia has a rich and storied history. The Sharps are one of Pocahontas County's first settling families. Their roots here reach back more than 300 years, spanning now 9 generations.

About 12 miles east of the Sharp Farm is Snowshoe Mountain Resort. They have seen much growth in recent years, and their sewage operation, Snowshoe Water & Sewer, is no longer keeping pace with the unbounded development.

Snowshoe has received numerous violations from the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, and very much wants to get out of the sewage business. Towards this end, the Pocahontas Public Service District (PSD) has been tasked with a plan to take over Snowshoe Water & Sewer as part of a larger effort to design and build a new "Slatyfork Regional" sewage system. However, Snowshoe has nearly 2,000 customers while Slatyfork has mere tens. Given this and the following admission from Snowshoe, the real driver for this project is clear:

“The wholly-owned subsidiary of Snowshoe Water & Sewer operates every year at a substantial loss, and I’m talking a large, 6-digit loss.” — J. D. Morgan, Director of Business Development for Snowshoe.

Back to Slatyfork, the scene in the background of this website is one of the Sharp Farm fields. In June, it blooms brilliantly with yellow mustard grasses and buttercups. Against the old tree you can see fence posts stacked, posts that date from the Civil War.

The Sharp's Country Store and Bed & Breakfast—the long-lived, historical enterprise of generations—is adjacent to this site, and its continued existence and prosperity is surely threatened by this project.

But if the PSD and Snowshoe are successful in their efforts and wishes, this lovely field will forfeit its flowers in favor of a new multi-tank sequence batch reactor (SBR) sewage treatment facility. Yet what smells most foul is that this Sharp Farm field would be seized through eminent domain—even though other locations not requiring eminent domain are available.

Recent efforts have hinted at hope. Through the work of Eight Rivers Safe Development Inc. and most every conservation group in the state, the PSD and proponents are being informed of the need for a more thorough evaluation of the risks inherent in the current proposal, as well as the benefit that more advanced, non-SBR technologies can offer in terms of increased capacity, decreased cost, and environmental friendliness.

However, recent developments within the PSD suggest that no real change is being seriously considered, and that eminent domain will still be needlessly invoked. And for this lingering offense in particular, the PSD needs to be made to remit: rid Pocahontas County of this spectre of eminent domain once and for all.

For those of you who frequent this site, you will recall the earlier version of this Welcome page wherein I feared that "come next June" this field would be gone. Yet one year later, with next being now, it is good to note that this field, this slice of heritage, this target of eminent domain, is still with us. There is much to do, and there is much the PSD needs to be convinced to do. But at least take the time to ease your fears a bit, to see still this Yellow-Budded Field of June in your thoughts, and to let your hopes be renewed for another splendid summer of history and heritage in full bloom.

One day at a time,
David Fleming
Pocahontas County resident