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Shannondale class-action suit denied

August 13, 1997

By CLYDE FORD

Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The Shannondale Road Association's lawsuit to improve the subdivision's rutted roads has hit a legal pothole.

Jefferson County Circuit Judge Christopher Wilkes has ruled that the road association cannot sue the other property residents through a class action lawsuit.

The Shannondale Road Association filed the lawsuit in March, seeking to take over the maintenance of more than 70 miles of roads in the rural, mountainous subdivision that began as a gated weekend retreat with cabins.

Over the decades, Shannondale has grown into one of the largest communities in Jefferson County, but many of the properties still are required to pay only about $20 a year in road maintenance fees.

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If the Shannondale Road Association had been successful, it would have been able to increase the road maintenance fees and come up with plans to improve the roads.

The roads have deteriorated to the point that many are impassable to all but four-wheel drive vehicles and some mortgage lenders are refusing to approve home purchases.

In his July 24 court ruling, Wilkes said the road association would have to file a lawsuit against each property owner, which the association says would cost it too much money.

Shannondale has more than 2,500 property owners scattered throughout the United States and several nations, association officials have said.

Association President Robert Warren said Tuesday that the group is working with an attorney to see what other action can be taken.

"We're not dead in the water," Warren said.

Warren said his neighbors aren't mad at him for trying to take legal action against them. "It's an agreeable disagreement," he said.

"We'll still work to find some way to improve our roads. Our goal is to have safe and adequate roads," Warren said.

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