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Tempers flare over rezoning

February 04, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Frederick developer was given permission to build six duplexes in the Fairground Heights subidivision Thursday night, but not before a heated debate between the builder and a Martinsburg City Council member.

Council member Glenville Twigg said he does not like James Rizzo's plan to "cram" six duplexes on six, 50-foot wide lots.

Twigg, who lives across the street from the site, said that is too much housing for the 1.5-acre building lot.

"He thinks he's in West Virginia and West Virginians will buy anything. I don't know who would buy such a mess," Twigg told Rizzo.

Rizzo said he could have sold the property to a builder who wanted to construct a Housing and Urban Development project there, but he did not want to.

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"I'm not a mongrel that wants to deface the area," said Rizzo.

Rizzo became concerned about his housing plan this week when four city council members voted Monday to hold a special meeting Thursday to rezone the 35-acre Fairgound Heights subdivision off East Street to prohibit the construction of multi-family dwellings.

The council was supposed to consider the rezoning at its regular meeting next Thursday, but four council members agreed to move up the date of the vote.

The council voted Thursday to approve the rezoning, although Rizzo will be able to build his duplexes because he had already started the application process, City Attorney Danny Staggers said.

After the meeting, Rizzo said he did not know if he would build the duplexes because of a requirement that he complete construction within a year. Under the previous zoning, Rizzo said there would not have been a time limit for construction.

Mayor Earnest L. Sparks said the vote was the first time the city has ever rezoned a property against the owner's wishes.

"The ethics commission really needs to take a look at this," Rizzo said. "You really messed with the wrong guy here. I have been railroaded in this whole thing."

George Karos was the only council member to vote against the rezoning.

"I don't think the whole thing has been handled properly," Karos said.

Council members Donald Anderson, Max Parkinson, Oden Barrett and Twigg voted for the rezoning.

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