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Letter to the Editor: What is going on in our backyard?

By Staff | Sep 7, 2018

So what is going on in our backyards? I’m not usually inclined to be much of a conspiracy theorist, but there’s a lot going on that’s concerning me and others about the future of our rural homes in Jefferson County. This all started for me during summer 2017, with the announcement of the Novak Drive Connector Road Study, of which one of its options proposed a new major highway almost literally in my backyard. It appears now the option most affecting my immediate neighbors and me is the least favored, which is good for my wife and I, but the other options still loom.

The next event that occurred was last fall when Jefferson Asphalt Company purchased several acres of former Jefferson Orchard lands–which is directly across the street from our driveway. My wife and I learned from fellow neighbors that Jefferson Asphalt had purchased the property to excavate thousands of tons of dirt-fill over the next few years, but for what? No one has said where the fill would go.

My wife and I, along with many of our neighbors, attended a public meeting in fall 2017 held by the WVDEP, who is responsible for issuing the NPDES Storm Water Permit for the removal of soil from this site. The meeting participants had many concerns, including how removing this contaminated orchard soil would affect our health and groundwater. We were assured by WVDEP all our questions and concerned would be addressed in writing before the permit would be issued or denied, but as of this date no answers have been provided and as far as we know no permit has been issued. But yet this has not stopped Jefferson Asphalt from readying the site, and curiously, just in the past few weeks Jefferson County resurfaced Paynes Ford Road with asphalt from the Jefferson County line to Route 480, conveniently crossing Bowers Road and seemingly bulky enough for heavy-truck traffic.

And now enters Rockwool, who, by the way, also purchased former Jefferson Orchard lands for their project.

So what is going on? Who knows the big picture, the big plan for our little slice of West Virginia heaven? Is it the state, the county? What deals have already been struck to industrialize our backyard? Is a connector road already a done deal from Novak Drive to Route 9? Now, wouldn’t that be convenient for Rockwool’s business? And where would this new road connect? Isn’t it curious how the Short Road Ramp ends in a nearby field? Isn’t it curious that after the recent improvements by WV DOT to the Short Road Exit access that DOT still has its office trailer located on site, ready for what?

I’m sure someone knows the answers to these questions; why not let the rest of us in on the plan that already seem to be well underway?

Terry Lindsay, of Kearneysville