Sheets proposes multi-use hunting area for Green Bank site
Marlinton, W.Va. –
The Pocahontas County Commission recently advertised for ideas for the use of 30 acres of county-owned property in Green Bank, designated for economic development use.
During Tuesday evening’s commission meeting, Green Bank resident Bob Sheets proposes an idea for development of the county property and adjacent Board of Education property.
“As I’m looking at it, I’m saying, why can’t we, possibly, put together a coalition of you gentlemen, the Board of Education and the forestry class and, possibly, the Senior Center and turn it into something that would benefit the community and might also generate a few bucks,” he said. “And that would be either some sort of senior hunting center or a handicapped hunting area.”
In March, the commission cancelled the transfer of nine acres of the property for expansion of Jacob and Malinda Meck’s septic pumping business, after it learned of plans to build sewage lagoons. Commissioner Martin Saffer, who opposed the transfer to the Mecks, leaves office in January.
Commissioner David Fleming says a newly composed commission might reconsider a transfer.
“The elephant in the room is the expansion effort of Jacob Meck, to expand behind where he is now and closer inland by another three acre strip, I believe,” he said. “So, that’s one thing that we’ve talked about here and a large portion of the community is opposed to it and a large portion of the community is for it. It’s a very contentious issue.”
Commissioner Jamie Walker says he would want to see detailed plans before he voted for a transfer to the Mecks.
“Part of the issues that I have run into with Jacob is – it’s kind of a rough drawing, scribbled out on a piece of paper – you know, ‘well, I’m going to do this now and possibly this later, and possibly that.’ Well, to me, if you’re in business and you don’t know what you need to do your business, you probably don’t need to be in business to begin with. So, I would like to see it drawed to scale, mapped out exactly how it’s going to be built, what’s going to be built. So you know – maybe it’s earth with a rubber liner, maybe it’s concrete, maybe it’s an above-ground tank, maybe it’s a below-ground tank. I mean, there’s been a lot of options put on the table and nothing is in concrete.”
Walker raises a question about firearms use on Board of Education property.
“Well, I think it would be a great idea, especially, like you said, for the handicapped people,” he said. “But then, on the other side of that, is it even legal to do it? Because the next thing that kind of concerns me is, if the Board does agree to it, Mr. Garner agrees to it, then you’re going to have students involved in it and that’s going to be another critical firearm issue, at that point.”
Sheets, a retired schoolteacher, said agreements, using controls similar to ones used for an annual hunt on nearby National Radio Astronomy Observatory property, likely could be negotiated.
Fleming reads the definition of economic development, as approved by a previous commission, when it designated the property for economic development.
“Economic development can be defined as efforts that seek to improve the economic well-being and quality of life for a community, by creating and/or retaining jobs and supporting or growing incomes and the tax base. Economic development, for the purposes of government real estate development, does not include residential housing, active crop land or tree-planting for harvest.”
Commissioner Martin Saffer noted that Sheets’ proposal for a multi-use handicapped and senior hunting area would easily fit inside the economic development definition.
Sheets said he would like to discuss the idea with all interested parties, including the Board of Education, the Mecks and state officials. The commission expressed approval for Sheets to continue work on the proposal and Commissioner Martin Saffer gives encouragement.
“Well, I like the fact that you’re here and you’re talking about it and the idea is still alive and there are more people involved,” he said. “I mean, you’re talking about the school, you’re talking about the state involvement. That’s exciting to me because then, the community will buy in, more likely, into the final idea that you come up with.”