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Road meeting attracts 300 W.Va. residents

May 04, 1997

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer, Charles Town

MANNINGS, W.Va. - Shannondale, W.Va., residents packed the Blue Ridge Elementary cafeteria Sunday afternoon to discuss the class action lawsuit filed against them because they have bad roads in their subdivision.

About 300 residents attended the meeting, roughly the same size crowd that packed the first court hearing held in April in Jefferson County Circuit Court.

The class action was filed by a group of residents called the Shannondale Roads Association that is seeking a way to improve the roads. Most of the roads in the subdivision in the Blue Ridge Mountains have ruts and potholes, making them nearly impassable to all but four-wheel-drive vehicles.

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The road association said that because of the covenants between the property owners and the Shannondale subdivision owner, the legal action is needed to change the maintenance agreements.

The subdivision's private roads are owned by the Shannondale Association president Michael "Mickey" Johnson, who also is treasurer of the Shannondale Roads Association.

"We're not going to sit back while he takes us to court, while he hasn't lived up to his end of the contract," said Mary Jean Hartman, a Shannondale resident opposed to the lawsuit.

While the meeting was called by a group of neighbors opposing the lawsuit, Johnson attended, standing in back listening and later taking the microphone at the podium to briefly answer questions.

Residents complained that they have paid their road maintenance fees for years, but no road work has occurred.

Johnson said the road maintenance fees are not enough to cover the costs of repairing all 70 miles of roads.

Johnson said road work has occurred at various places.

"Where?" several residents shouted back derisively.

Shannondale Roads Association officials said that many of the road maintenance fees range from $5 to $30 and were set back in the 1950s when Shannondale was a gated, weekend retreat.

Since then, it has grown into West Virginia's largest subdivision.

Attorney James Campbell, who is representing several of the Shannondale residents, said that at the April 14 hearing Judge Christopher Wilkes gave the plaintiffs' attorney time to write a legal brief supporting their decision to seek a class action lawsuit.

Campbell said he'll have a chance to respond. Campbell said he believes the Shannondale Roads Association should have to file lawsuits against each property owner, making it more costly for the plaintiffs.

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