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Roads hearing jams W.Va. court

April 15, 1997

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Shannondale, W.Va., residents packed the Jefferson County Circuit Court room Monday - filling all the seats, standing along the walls, sitting on the floor and overflowing into the hallway - in order to attend a hearing concerning roads in the subdivision.

An estimated crowd of 270 people attended the hearing on whether the residents of the large, mountain subdivision should be considered defendants of a class action suit filed by an association of other residents seeking a way to improve the roads.

"It's a heck of an interesting legal question here," said Jefferson County Circuit Judge Christopher Wilkes.

Wilkes asked attorneys for the defendants and the plaintiffs, the Shannondale Roads Association, to write legal memorandums for him to consider.

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He did not issue a ruling on Monday, but gave the plaintiff's attorney, Jim Crawford, 20 days to write his memorandum and defense attorneys 10 days to respond to his filing.

At issue are the roads in Shannondale, originally a gated, weekend retreat, but now a residential area in the Blue Ridge Mountains with about 2,600 property owners.

Under the covenants, residents pay from $5 to $30 a year for road maintenance. Shannondale Roads Association filed the class action suit in March, saying that the amount generated from the road fees does not cover the necessary work on the more than 60 miles of roadway.

Many of the roads have become rutted, dirt lanes because of the lack of maintenance.

The roads association said a class action suit is needed to increase the road maintenance fees to about $150 a year so they can be properly gravelled and graded.

Property owners would become members of the roads association and would elect a board of directors, said Michael "Mickey" M. Johnson, treasurer of the Shannondale Roads Association.

The roads are currently owned by the subdivision, which is owned by Johnson.

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