Concerns expressed over new Gerrardstown post office

May 21, 2002|BY DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Berkeley County planning officials on Monday night extended a public hearing on a controversial plan to build a new post office in Gerrardstown, W.Va., to give them time to get more information about the project.

Speaking at a public hearing before the Berkeley County Planning Commission, several Gerrardstown residents expressed concern about the new post office, saying it will adversely affect some homeowners.

Postal officials said the current post office along W.Va. 51 on the western edge of the town is no longer big enough to meet the needs of the community and a larger facility is needed.


There are 600 mailboxes in the current post office and the new 4,326 square-foot-facility, which will cost more than $500,000 to build, will contain 832 boxes, said Walt Chandler of the U.S. Postal Service.

The new post office will be built on a lot in the center of town.

Trudy Slater, who lives in the Gerrardstown area, said there is no room on the lot for the post office to expand. Slater said she worries about what could go into the building if the post office ever outgrew that building and would be forced to leave.

Becky Basford, who with her husband Bob operates the historic D.S. Griffith Store across the street from the proposed site, said she fears that W.Va. 51 will have to be greatly widened to make room for a turning lane to serve the post office.

Basford said she heard the front porch of her house may have to be removed to make room for the widening of W.Va. 51.

An official with the project said state Department of Highways officials should be asked about how the turning lane will affect area homes.

"I know this is a real passionate item. We don't want to do anything to burden anyone," said Mike Mace of N Vision, an architectural firm that is doing design work for the new post office.

Rather than deciding whether to approve the project, planning commission members decided to extend the public hearing until they received information from the Department of Highways about what the impact on the town will be from the W.Va. 51 changes.

The planning commission could have ended the public hearing, but that would have meant that they would have only had 45 days to get the information they needed, said planning commission member Linda Barnhart.

If the planning commission did not take any action within 45 days, the project would have been automatically approved, Barnhart said.

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