The council referred the matter to the city planning commission, according to Councilman Glenville Twigg. "For annexation purposes, it will have to be sanctioned by the county, too," Twigg added.
Twigg said he supports annexation of the land, which he said is a wooded lot between W.Va. 45 and the Martinsburg Lumber and Coal Company on Washington Avenue. "I think it can be done because it's such a win-win situation for everyone involved," he said.
"It's so hard for the city to grow. I think it's great when property owners come in and want to become part of the city," Twigg said. Martinsburg will benefit from the additional property taxes and business and occupation taxes once the land is developed, he said.
"We already have city utilities on that property," he said, noting that Martinsburg would benefit from additional sewer and water fees. Twigg said the county also would benefit, since it would get more property taxes once the land is developed.
Twigg said there are several advantages to annexation for a developer. One is the availability of 24-hour emergency services. Another is zoning, which can provide protection for property owners by regulating land use.
While the City of Martinsburg has a zoning ordinance, Berkeley County does not. The land in question is adjacent to city limits but is within county boundaries, but Van Wyk wants it annexed into the city.
Van Wyk also told the council that he had prepaid his remaining indebtedness to the city on a 1981 Urban Development Action Grant loan for $463,000. He said he paid off the last $23,000 on the loan which, with interest, had come to about $900,000.
That loan was used to help begin development along Foxcroft Avenue, where Van Wyk Enterprises owns the Holiday Inn, Days Inn and Hampton Inn, two office buildings, a restaurant and other properties. He recently broke ground on a $5 million, 10-screen theater complex that will be run by the Hoyts Cinemas Corp. of Boston.
Van Wyk told the council that the development along Foxcroft Avenue brings in $1 million a year in tax revenues for both the city and county and another $12 million for the state.