CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — After a 5-3 vote Monday evening, the Charles Town City Council approved a sewer bond for a line that would serve the controversial Rockwool insulation plant under construction in Jefferson County.
The vote has been debated for about eight months amid controversy and ongoing protests from concerned area citizens. Many are concerned about the plant’s close proximity to three schools and potential environmental impacts.
Charles Town City Manager Daryl Hennessy told MetroNews affiliate WEPM the bond will next go to the Charles Town Building Commission.
“It’s important to note that there’s a little bit of difference between what (city) council is going to do and actually the financing itself. The building commission will ultimately be responsible for issuing the debt and approving the bond. But, without city council authorizing them to do that, they wouldn’t be able to do it on their own.”
The vote supports a lease ordinance from the state for financing for the line. Revenue from the line, which will also serve any future development near the Rockwool site, will then be used to pay off debt to the state.
Councilmembers Michael Brittingham, Michael Tolbert and Todd Coyle voted against the bond.
“Last night’s discussion focused on the heart of what they thought the vote was about,” said Hennessy. “A lot of people see this as an environmental vote and trying to keep the heavy industry and the pollutants that result from a Rockwool-type project from occurring in the county. But I think council’s vote here was really about how to we finance the line.”
Jefferson County Vision, a leading non-profit against the construction of Rockwool, released a response to Charles Town City Council’s Decision.
“It’s staggering to witness a board of elected officials ignore the overwhelming outcry against the plan to industrialize a school zone in Jefferson County. We, the people who have come together to organize against this planning disaster, knew the system was rigged but never anticipated how deeply the deck is stacked against regular folks.
Tonight’s 5-3 vote was especially disappointing because of the obvious dishonesty in CTUB (Charles Town Utility Board)’s sewer line proposal, and because the Council majority ignored the Charles Town freeholder petition signed by over 1,000 property owners in opposition to the sewer bond.” -Jefferson County Vision
The Charles Town Building Commission is scheduled to vote on the bond at 4 Tuesday afternoon. Jefferson County Vision is planning a rally outside of the building.