Residential growth slows in Berkeley County

March 04, 1997


Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Residential growth was down slightly last year in Berkeley County, and one official says the change may be due to a surplus in building lots.

Last year, the Berkeley County Planning Commission approved 35 new subdivisions, creating 418 new lots in the county, according to the agency's annual report.

In 1995, 51 subdivisions were approved, creating about 660 new lots, said Harry L. "Sonny" Carter, interim planning director.

County officials took an inventory of lots about three years ago and counted about 6,600 of them, Carter said.

Carter said a large number of those lots remain vacant, which may be causing developers to hold off on getting approval for more.


Bill Newbraugh said that may be the case for some developers, but not for him. Newbraugh said he had brisk sales last year in his new Laurel Ridge subdivision off W.Va. 9 west of Martinsburg, and he's looking for other parcels to develop.

Newbraugh said he believes the key to success for local developers is marketing of their product as competition in the housing industry increases.

"If you don't, you're going to see a lapse in sales, I believe," said Newbraugh.

Newbraugh said he advertises his homes in Northern Virginia newspapers and holds home shows in Washington, D.C., Fairfax, Va., and other metropolitan areas.

In his marketing efforts, Newbraugh said, he talks about the Eastern Panhandle's quality of life issues, such as lower crime rates and taxes, which seem to attract people to the area.

While residential growth was down, commercial development climbed in the county last year, according to the planning commission's report.

Sixteen commercial projects were approved in 1996, up from the 11 filed in the previous year, Carter said.

"I think that's a pretty good sign development is holding its own," Carter said.

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