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

Letter to The Pocahontas Times from Jim Smith

Thursday September 28, 2006
The Pocahontas Times

As a retired employee of a large metro Atlanta area water and sewer system, I am familiar with eminent domain, commonly referred to as condemnation.

I have several issues I wish to comment on.

First, it has been stated that 67 local residents will have sewer available, but there has been no record of how many total private properties would have sewer available, nor how many properties under ownership of Snowshoe would have availability to the sewer. If the properties privately held by Snowshoe equal or exceed the other privately owned properties, use of eminent domain is illegal per Federal law.

Second, in many states if government-held property is available to construct a public-use facility, eminent domain is not allowed.

Third, I question the design engineering concept for the construction of the plant. In the Atlanta area we have a quality rock called blue granite. Because of this, anything built deeper than an average of eight feet requires extensive geotech investigation. This consists of soil borings or rock corings to a minimum of 10 feet below the deepest excavation point on multiple locations on the construction site. This work is performed by a third party engineering firm that specializes in geo-tech work and a comprehensive report is prepared prior to any site design work beginning.

Fourth, here the utility company takes open bid cost proposals first for a design engineer, then geotech engineering, then project management firm—the design engineer is never the project manager—and then the construction is bid.

In closing, from the information made public through the media, one cannot see where this sewer plant will be for the health, welfare and benefit of the greater community. It appears from all the articles that Snowshoe has an aging sewer treatment facility that needs major upgrading to make it compliant with current regulation, it is located on buildable property, and bottom line is let's get rid of it.

The elected officials need to take a serious look at the new plant, not just where it is, but is its location best for future residential and commercial growth, can it be expanded beyond its proposed location, how much is the initial cost, what is the pay back time to pay for the plant, what environmental impacts will the plant have on the local area to include waterways, flora, fauna, emergency access and a major list of other items.

I live one mile in a direct cross country line from a state of the art 20 MGD sewer plant, and some cool damp mornings when the wind is just right, I can walk out on my deck and gag. And after 21 years working around sewers I am used to the odor.

When I went to work for the county in 1984, there was a Comprehensive Water and Sewer Master Plan, that outlined future needs for 15 years in the future based on current land use plans and project growth. This plan was reviewed annually by planning, zoning, fire department, police, water and sewer and storm water staff and changes were made as needed and presented to the Board of Commissioners for approval. This plan is still in use today and is one of the many reasons that Cobb County has one of the best water and sewer systems in the S.E. It is also the only public utility under control of a local government to have received the highest possible ratings from the top three bonding firms in the United States.

I just hope the local government does the right thing or it will haunt them forever.

Jim Smith
Marietta, GA