It is not the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) goal to shut down businesses. Instead, it just wants to bring them into compliance, DEP spokeswoman Kathy Cosco told the Wheeling News Register.
After an Ohio County Public Service District meeting Sept. 22, three Dallas Pike-area business people, including Sam Harris, owner of the Dallas Pike Campground, said the DEP had set deadlines related to sewage service upgrades at their businesses or else face being shuttered.
”Threatening to shut down is extreme. … That is not our goal,” Cosco said.
Kristie Schul, manager of Comfort Inn, said the DEP issued her an Oct. 31 deadline to submit engineered plans showing her hotel will be connected to county sewage service. Her hotel, along with the Holiday Inn Express, managed by Joyce Tharp, and the Dallas Pike Campground, use their own sewage plants, also known as ”package plants.”
”Their systems are outdated and aren’t in compliance,” Cosco said.
She noted for the past few years the DEP has been ”lenient” with the businesses because it was the DEP’s understanding the hotels and campground would eventually be connected to the county sewage system.
”We stepped back for a time for that to happen. But apparently that’s not going to happen. We can’t continue to allow them to exceed limits any longer,” Cosco said.
During past Ohio County Commission meetings, Harris has asked commissioners when sewage lines would be extended from The Highlands development to his business and others. Administrator Greg Stewart told Harris the commission was working with the state Public Service Commission to find funding for the project, estimated to cost up to $3 million.
”We don’t want to shut down anybody. We’re not threatening anybody,” she said.
However, Cosco said she was not sure at what point during the penalty phase a business could be shut down by the DEP.