Berkeley County weighs new subdivision regulations

April 02, 2002|BY DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - County planners want to do away with a long-standing agricultural exemption that has allowed "countless numbers of subdivisions" to be built in Berkeley County at different standards than other developments.

Although it is not clear how the agricultural exemption was started, it probably was used to give farmers a break on regulations when they wanted to subdivide a section of property, said Sonny Carter, administrator of the Berkeley County Planning Commission.

The exemption ended up being a major tool for subdivision development in the county, Carter said.

"It had been abused, so members of the planning commission wanted to do away with it," said Berkeley County Commission President Howard Strauss, also a member of the planning commission.


Under the exemption, a farm can be subdivided into an unlimited number of lots, and housing subdivisions on the farms do not have to meet the same regulations as other subdivisions in aspects such as road and storm water management design, said Strauss.

Under new subdivision regulations being considered by the planning commission, the agricultural exemption would be replaced by a "conservation transfer," which would only allow farmers to subdivide parcels 20 acres or larger.

A home can be built on the 20 acres, but no subdivisions or mobile home parks can be located on the parcels, Strauss said.

Other proposed changes to the subdivision regulations include:

n Adding chapters dealing with condominiums and villas. Condos and villas were sometimes approved under residential regulations and at other times under commercial regulations, which made the process confusing, Strauss said.

n Including a public hearing process when developers ask for variances on regulations.

n Adding regulations for development of campgrounds. Campgrounds have been built in the county without any standards, Strauss said.

The planning commission decided Monday night to hold a public hearing on May 23 to gather public comments on the new regulations. The hearing will be held at 7 p.m. in the Berkeley County Courthouse.

Copies of the regulations will be available for $20 each beginning April 8. Copies of the regulations will also be available for review at the planning commission office and the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library at 101 W. King St.

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