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Group floats zoning, bypass as development ideas

March 10, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Berkeley County Development Authority has listed zoning, impact fees and a bypass east of Martinsburg among possible ideas for boosting economic development in the county.

Bob Crawford, executive director of the development authority, said members of the group met for a brainstorming session in January to come with ways to promote development in the county.

Development authority members will meet Wednesday at One Valley Bank in Martinsburg to decide if they want to go forward with any of the proposals, Crawford said.

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Zoning, which involves designating certain areas of the county for development, has been a controversial issue in Berkeley County. Voters soundly defeated a proposal to allow zoning last May following a vigorous anti-zoning campaign.

The idea behind zoning is to provide orderly growth for the county, and protect property owners from any development which might devaluate their property, officials said.

But Robert Butler, an opponent of zoning, said the county's subdivision regulations are strict enough to control growth. "If you want to know how people feel, just put it on the ballot again," Butler said.

Crawford said zoning was "simply one item" that came out of the brainstorming meeting, and was not a proposal that is being endorsed by the authority.

"I think it's good sometimes for members of a board to share ideas. Because our thrust is economic development," Crawford said.

Crawford said, however, that zoning would probably still have a tough time passing in the county.

Bob Sanders, president of the development authority, said zoning makes a community "progressive." Land-use laws do not necessarily affect whether an industry moves into the county, especially if the company is buying land in an industrial park, Sanders said.

Authority members discussed the possibility of a bypass east of Martinsburg to help traffic flow east toward Washington, D.C., according to Crawford.

One idea under consideration is a beltway that would extend from the Spring Mills development in northern Berkeley County to the Tabler Station exit along Interstate 81 in southern Berkeley County, Crawford said.

The beltway would intersect with W.Va. 9 east, enabling motorists to avoid congestion off the Winchester Avenue exit along I-81, which leads to W.Va. 9, said Crawford.

Among the other ideas are impact fees, which is money collected up front from developers to help pay for local services.

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