Sewage Plant Needs Dim Campground's Future
Samuel Harris has handed down his family business — the Dallas Pike Campground near Triadelphia, W. Va., — to his young sons, but now he's afraid they may lose it, the Wheeling News Register reported.
During a regular Ohio County Commission meeting Wednesday (July 28), Harris said the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has levied fines against him because he has not upgraded the campground's sewage plant. In addition to being unable to afford the improvements, Harris said he had been waiting for the county to extend sewage lines to his area — something county officials said they cannot afford to do at the moment.
"The (DEP) has unbridled power. They can call you in and tell you anything — I've never seen anything like it in my life. I didn't think I was in Russia, but now I'm wondering if I am," Harris told commissioners Randy Wharton, David Sims and Tim McCormick. "There's no way to combat these people. If they don't think your sewage is right, get your checkbook out if you have any money left. To cut to the chase, we need the sewers."
Harris noted other businesses also need help. He said businesses in the lower truck stop at Dallas Pike already have closed, as the owner, whose name he could not recall, decided not to upgrade his own treatment plant.
Administrator Greg Stewart said the county does have a plan to extend sewage lines to the area, but the county Public Service District does not have the money to do so. And the county's tax increment financing district, which includes The Highlands development, does not include the Dallas Pike Campground area, he added.
"Unfortunately that property located farther east is out of the TIF (Tax Incremental Financing) zone, and we don't have funds at the moment to begin that project," Stewart said, noting it would cost about $2 million to $3 million.
Taunja Willis-Miller of Jackson Kelly law firm, who was at the meeting to field commissioners' questions about selling TIF bonds, suggested that Harris and the estimated 20 other businesses impacted get together and try financing the project themselves.
"If they could collectively come up with that, we could do the project," Stewart said, noting he would call Harris next week to set up a meeting with the businesses.
Harris added he would rather give money to the sewage project than pay DEP fines. He noted after the meeting that his initial fine was $9,000, which the DEP broke down into payments.
"I'm glad I came, because I came with a whole different attitude. I thought I'd come here and talk and then file suit. But I'm not going to do that," Harris told commissioners.