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Huge development planned in Jefferson County, W.Va.

February 07, 2000|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A Virginia development firm said Monday it is considering building a community of 3,300 homes around a new shopping and office complex in Jefferson County.

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The shopping center and office complex would be the town center, and a village green and a community center would serve as the heart of the area, according to Greenvest L.C. Senior Vice President Jim Duszynski.

If Jefferson County accepts the company's offer to donate 75 acres of land in the heart of the property, the county could build a second high school there as well.

Based in Tysons Corner, Va., Greenvest has built similar communities in Northern Virginia and Maryland.

The development along U.S. 340 South behind Page Jackson Elementary School, would have 2,100 homes, 750 townhouses and 450 condominiums or apartments, Duszynski said.

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Other features would include "tot lots," tennis courts, a sidewalk network serving all the homes and business facilities and an Olympic-size swimming pool, he said.

The development, known as Hunt Field, would be built on a 1,000-acre parcel of land that has been considered for different projects over the years.

The Hunt Field community would be completely developed in about 12 to 25 years, Duszynski said.

In return for its donation of land for a high school, Greenvest wants the Jefferson County Board of Education to write a letter supporting the proposed subdivision, according to school officials.

At a Board of Education meeting last week, some county residents said they are worried there might be pesticide residue on the land.

Georgia DuBose, who once rented a house on the property, said she used to find canisters of pesticides on the land. The canisters held about 5 gallons of pesticides, said DuBose, who told the board she was concerned about youngsters going to school there.

Duszynski said it appears there is no pesticide threat. Greenvest obtained a report from the Central Intelligence Agency which showed the pesticides have been removed, he said.

The Central Intelligence Agency was considering the Hunt Field property in 1992 as a site to consolidate 21 of its offices, but the deal never materialized.

Despite the CIA report, Greenvest will have another environmental assessment conducted at the site, Duszynski said.

"That's standard for us. If there is any more residue, it will be removed. It's as simple as that," he said.

Duszynski said he was concerned about some of the comments made about Hunt Field at the Board of Education meeting last Tuesday, including those from school officials who said Greenvest wanted a letter of support from the board on its development.

Greenvest is requesting only a "referral letter," which would discuss such issues as how many students the subdivision would generate, Duszynski said.

Board of Education President Larry Togans maintained Monday night that Greenvest officials want a letter of support from the board.

The Board of Education is considering a bond issue of $31 million to $36 million to pay for construction of the second high school, but board members delayed any decision on the issue last Tuesday after hearing the concerns from residents.

"We need to look at these things. We have to think about safety first," Togans said Monday.

On the other hand, Greenvest's offer of land is hard to ignore, Togans said.

"How many other developers have come to us with 75 acres?" Togans asked.

Greenvest wants to get required approvals from the Jefferson County Planning Commission before purchasing the land from F&M National Corp., a bank holding company based in Winchester, Va., Duszynski said.

Greenvest is considered to be one of the largest developers of planned communities in the Washington, D.C., area. The Cascades community in Loudoun County, Va., has shopping centers and almost 6,000 homes, some selling for as much as $400,000, according to the company.

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