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Rezoning denied

October 10, 1997

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Martinsburg City Council Thursday night voted unanimously to turn down a request to rezone a section of the Rosemont Orchard subdivision from urban residential to service business.

The decision was a popular one for about 20 residents near the tract that opposed the rezoning proposal by West End Enterprises. On Sept. 3 the city planning commission had voted not to recommend rezoning 29 of the 67 residential lots in the subdivision.

Jeff Boehm, general manager and partner of West End Enterprises, told the council, "a `no' vote tonight will by no means mean we will be going away."

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West End purchased the property in 1994 and the tract was approved for residential zoning the following year. The company later asked to rezone a portion of the property for business development.

At the planning commission meeting Boehm said his company was willing to accept zoning or deed restrictions to reassure city officials about what types of businesses could locate on the property. That still did not satisfy residents of the area and Boehm Thursday night described that meeting as "far more like a political rally than a public hearing."

Councilman Max Parkinson said Boehm was informed at the planning commission meeting that the city could not impose zoning restrictions. City attorney J. Oakley Seibert, however, noted that deed restrictions would be within the law.

Boehm maintained the city would benefit from business and occupancy taxes and that replacing residential lots with doctor's offices would benefit the neighborhood, which is near City Hospital.

"We have people out there who wouldn't want businesses in a residential area," Councilman Merle Butts said.

After the vote, Boehm was leaving City Hall when Robert Tavenner, of 105 S. Vista Lane, told him, "if you want to live like that, you're money mad. You're sick."

Boehm explained that he lived in the same neighborhood and his group wanted to change the zoning because the housing market was weak.

Tavenner claimed Boehm had tried to deceive the people in the area by buying the land for residential development and then changing the zoning.

Boehm tried to explain his position, but gave up, telling Tavenner, "you're not letting me get in a word edgewise."

Without any discussion, the council voted unanimously to adopt a resolution to annex 20.7 acres of land from Berkeley County. The proposal had been made Oc.t 2 at a special council meeting by developer Bruce Van Wyk, who said he plans to develop the land for retail use.

The property is owned by the Oates family of Martinsburg, but Van Wyk has it under contract to buy if the land is annexed and rezoned. He said last week he hopes both can be accomplished by the first of the year.

The annexation also has to be approved by the Berkeley County Commission before the land can be rezoned.

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