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Hunt Field debated at community meeting

March 14, 2001

Hunt Field debated at community meeting



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town

Hunt Field debatePhoto: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The developers of the proposed 3,300-home Hunt Field development said at a public meeting Tuesday night they will consider paying impact fees to help the school system deal with the growth the planned community would bring.

The developers also said they are interested in trying to bring commuter train service to the development and would excavate about 2 feet of soil from a portion of the site to reduce arsenic levels.

The ideas follow concern in the community about how the county would be able to handle a community the size of Hunt Field.

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The developers presented ideas about how they hope to make Hunt Field blend in with the county's rural landscape.

Lee Quill, a planner for the project, said homes would not be built on high elevations in the 1,000-acre site south of Charles Town, preventing it from being seen from nearby historical homes, Quill said.

They are considering laying out the town in blocks much like Charles Town, saying those are attractive, time-tested neighborhood development plans that have worked.

"We understand why people are concerned about this property. It is a big piece of property," Quill told about 65 people in the auditorium of Wright Denny Elementary School.

Shepherdstown resident Dorothy McGhee said the Hunt Field developers offered "very pretty talk," but sidestepped issues like potential overcrowding of schools.

Before the meeting, several protesters stood outside holding signs carrying messages such as "Enrich Developers. Impoverish Ourselves."

Shortly after Hunt Field was proposed a year ago, the Jefferson County Board of Education supported a moratorium on new home construction in the county. Board members said the county would be in trouble if it did not find a way to pay for new schools.

Jim Duszynski, senior vice president of Greenvest L.C., the Vienna, Va., firm proposing the development, said his firm remains willing to give the board of education 75 acres in the development for new schools. Greenvest is offering to do preparation work for the new schools, such as bringing utilities to the site, doing grading work and performing stormwater management. Duszynski said he considers the gift of land and services offered to the board to be valued at between $2 million and $3 million.

Duszynski said he is also considering paying the school system impact fees to help offset the cost of educating new students related to the development.

Duszynski said he will consider reducing the density of Hunt Field. Regarding sewage service, a key issue when the planning commission turned down a community impact statement for the development, Duszynski said he would develop homes according to the capacity of the Charles Town sewer plant.

The planning commission rejected a community impact statement for Hunt Field, saying services like public schools and fire and police protection could not handle the people it would bring.

Hunt Field developers later filed a petition challenging the decision. Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge Thomas W. Steptoe ruled that the planning commission had to offer the developers another hearing on the project.

Duszynski said he plans to file documents with the planning commission reflecting the ideas discussed Tuesday night.

Another meeting is scheduled for April 4 at the Independent Fire Co.

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