Pocahontas County Commissioners Nix Green Bank Businessman’s Request For Additional County Land
Marlinton, WV – Despite a heartfelt plea from Pocahontas County Commission President David Fleming, Green Bank businessman Jacob Mecks’ request for an additional nine acres of land in the Green Bank Industrial Park failed to pass muster. The issue was discussed in front of a standing room only crowd during the County Commission meeting Tuesday night.
Meck’s multi-business location in Green Bank currently sits on three acres of county land leased via the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation. In December of 2010, the Pocahontas County Commission agreed to deed an additional nine acres of county land to Meck, again through the GVEDC. However, Meck’s plans to move a 100,000 gallon waste storage tank to Green Bank have kicked up a firestorm of protest from his neighbors. Commissioner Fleming explains his reasons for wanting to proceed with the deed.
“It is not, in my thinking, an acceptable solution to not deed this land to Mr. Meck” says Fleming. “I think the spirit of our December decision, while technically a survey authorization, was in spirit for the purpose of deeding this land ultimately to Mr. Meck so he can expand his economic development activities for Pocahontas County. I feel we do have a responsibility as the County Commission level to promote economic growth. It’s also our task to safeguard the will of the communities; and we have here a situation where we need to find a working middle ground.”
Commissioner Martin Saffer has a different take on the December Commission meeting.
“The official record was that we met to discuss the transfer for a possible lease or purchase, and I don’t think that that puts us in the position of having to go forward at this time” says Saffer. “I wish we’d had all this interest and discussion before we broached this subject.”
Several residents signed up to speak during the discussion Tuesday night. Meck supporter Mike O’Brien says this reminds him of another commission who faced similar opposition 50 years ago.
“Commissioners at that time was faced with the same problem we’re faced with here tonight” he says. “A group of people was wanting to develop some jobs in the County, and there was people for it and there was people against it. Some of the same opposition that they was stating then is what’s being stated now.”
“Well, fortunately the Commissioners supported that issue that night; and now for the last 48 years, Cass Railroad has been supporting jobs and the economy in Pocahontas County.”
O’Brien was also concerned about the message the Commission would send about economic growth if they turn down this deed.
“You’re going to tell our young people, hey, we’re going to educate you in this county, but whenever you’re finished with high school or the One Room University, pack your bags and get out, because we’re not here to support jobs.”
While initially only opposed to the waste storage tank, Tony Byrd says job creation is one of the reasons that he and others are opposed to Meck’s expansion plans. He presented the Commissioners with a petition of those opposed to it.
“Mr. Meck stated at the last [meeting] at the NRAO auditorium that there wouldn’t be one more employee added” says Byrd. “If you’ll look, you have over 100 names, and most of those are Green Bank residents, those were door to door; and what they’re upset now about is not the stink – they’re upset [about] no property tax – they think this is outrageous; no employees – more outrageous. And no money down except for the 50 dollars a month per acre he’s paying. These people are upset.”
Commission President David Fleming made a motion to proceed with the deed of land to Meck, but the motion died for lack of a second.