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Boundary commission visits Tamarack Ridge

West Virginia boundary commission members Charles Sypolt and Curt Keplinger visited Tamarack Ridge Saturday morning to inspect the site of a proposed industrial wind farm. ...Governor Manchin formed the boundary commission in September after the Pocahontas County Commission alerted him that the wind project might encroach into West Virginia territory. The county commission became concerned after the developer, Highland New Wind Development, LLC (HNWD), issued a site plan with the state line re-plotted on the base topographic map and two turbines very close to the re-plotted state line.

West Virginia boundary commission members Charles Sypolt and Curt Keplinger visited Tamarack Ridge Saturday morning to inspect the site of a proposed industrial wind farm.

Sypolt is professor of land surveying at Glenville State University. Keplinger is a professional surveyor with L&W Enterpirses of Petersburg. The third member of the commission, Tom Rayburn, was unable to travel on Saturday due to a back problem. Rayburn is manager of surveying with E.L. Robinson Engineering, of Charleston.

Governor Manchin formed the boundary commission in September after the Pocahontas County Commission alerted him that the wind project might encroach into West Virginia territory.

The county commission became concerned after the developer, Highland New Wind Development, LLC (HNWD), issued a site plan with the state line re-plotted on the base topographic map and two turbines very close to the re-plotted state line.

Pocahontas County commissioners Martin Saffer and David Fleming, members of the local media and interested citizens showed up Saturday morning at the gate to the proposed site, which sits on Route 250, about 10 miles northwest of Monterey, Virginia.

Across the road from the gate is an historic... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

West Virginia boundary commission members Charles Sypolt and Curt Keplinger visited Tamarack Ridge Saturday morning to inspect the site of a proposed industrial wind farm.

Sypolt is professor of land surveying at Glenville State University. Keplinger is a professional surveyor with L&W Enterpirses of Petersburg. The third member of the commission, Tom Rayburn, was unable to travel on Saturday due to a back problem. Rayburn is manager of surveying with E.L. Robinson Engineering, of Charleston.

Governor Manchin formed the boundary commission in September after the Pocahontas County Commission alerted him that the wind project might encroach into West Virginia territory.

The county commission became concerned after the developer, Highland New Wind Development, LLC (HNWD), issued a site plan with the state line re-plotted on the base topographic map and two turbines very close to the re-plotted state line.

Pocahontas County commissioners Martin Saffer and David Fleming, members of the local media and interested citizens showed up Saturday morning at the gate to the proposed site, which sits on Route 250, about 10 miles northwest of Monterey, Virginia.

Across the road from the gate is an historic marker, stating the significance of nearby Camp Allegheny: "Camp Allegheny - Confederate forces led by Col. Edward Johnson held a fortified camp here in winter 0f 1861-62. Sharp attack occurred here, Dec. 13, 1861 in which the Union troops were beaten off."

HNWD partners Henry "Mac" McBride and his son, Tal McBride, greeted the boundary commission members and informed the others they would not be allowed on the site. Mac McBride explained it was "nothing personal," but that the surveyors were the only ones with business on the site.

Saffer said he was dismayed to be barred from the project site.

"The boundary commission specifically invited me and my other commissioners to be here," he said. "I came all the way from Hillsboro, over an hour drive to get up here. I'm dismayed."

The commissioner said the McBrides have been reluctant to dialogue with those opposed to the project.

"It's reflective of the developer's resistance to dialogue - his not wanting to discuss the issues involved in this project and its impact on Camp Allegheny and the fact that a lot of people are against it and a lot of people want to have a really full discussion. I don't think it would have hurt one bit for me to go on his property with the commission, that the governor appointed, especially since the commission had asked me, as the president of the Pocahontas County Commission, to come along with them and walk with them."

Tal McBride responded in an email Saturday.

"Mr. Saffer's continued grandstanding and posturing against HNWD's wind farm was on display for all those present today," he wrote.

"By now, most citizens of Pocahontas County are weary of Saffer's opposition to anything and everything that constitutes growth or development in the area."

Saffer spoke with the boundary commissioners prior to their departure from the gate and expressed his desire to see a solution with which both Virginia and West Virginia would be satisfied.

Before leaving to the disputed area, Sypolt discussed the purpose of the visit.

"We will just be generally looking at the site and reviewing the previous survey that has been done and just get a feel for the location and what's going on," he said. "These are just fact-finding travels today and we'll be taking this back and I guess we'll have an open meeting for the public. At that point in time we'll have a discussion on what we found."

Sypolt said he assumed the public meeting would be in Charleston, but that no date had been set.

Jeffrey Hiner, professional surveyor and HNWD contractor, who re-plotted the state line on HNWD's site plan, escorted the two boundary commission members to the top of Tamarack Ridge. The trio spent about an hour inspecting the site before returning to the gate.

After returning to the gate, Sypolt said the commissioners had collected evidence but made no decisions.

"Basically, all we did was look at the ground evidence, the lay of the land and some of the areas in which the previous surveyor had worked," he said. "We didn't evaluate his work in any way. We just basically went to see what he had done."

"We are not allowed to make any determinations today," he added. "We aren't even allowed to drive in the same vehicle, so there would be no discussion. The only thing that we're doing now is collecting evidence and asking for evidence from the surveyor and to see what he's done and, at a future date, we'll make a determination.

Sypolt said it was uncertain whether a more complete survey would be done at the site.

"I'm not sure that there's going to be another survey," he said. "That has to be a decision that's going to be made by the three of us."

In addition to boundary issues, HNWD's wind project faces challenges from within the Virginia state government.

HNWD faces a hearing on November 10 at the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) to determine if the company has met pre-construction conditions regarding protection of historic and cultural resources.

The Director of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources (DHR) filed a complaint with the SCC on August 19, stating that HNWD had failed to comply with condition #2, which requires the company to "Conduct archeological and architectural surveys if necessary - coordinate with DHR for guidance regarding the potential need for archeological and architectural surveys, recommended studies and field surveys to evaluate the project's impacts to historic resources."

During evidentiary hearings, HNWD argued that the matter of "viewshed" had been settled by Highland County's decision to issue a conditional use permit.

DHR argued that viewshed is just "the initial analysis to be done at the site regarding visual impacts," and that HNWD had failed to provide proper studies on the project's visual impact on historic and cultural sites.

A Virginia hearing examiner agreed with DHR and ordered that HNWD's compliance with visual impact studies, in addition to other DHR requirements, will be argued at the November 10 hearing.

The hearing is scheduled to be webcast live on November 10 at 10 a.m. at http://www.scc.virginia.gov/case/webcast.aspx


Source: http://www.pocahontastimes....

NOV 4 2009
http://www.windaction.org/posts/22995-boundary-commission-visits-tamarack-ridge
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