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County officials call for growth control

Jefferson County Commission approves three Ranson annexation requests and then discusses ways to control development

Jefferson County Commission approves three Ranson annexation requests and then discusses ways to control development

June 28, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - After accepting three annexation requests Thursday that will allow the city of Ranson to more than triple in size, the Jefferson County Commission called for a stopgap measure to control residential growth in the county.

The commission instructed the Jefferson County Planning Commission to change the Land Evaluation Site Assessment scoring process to reduce the amount of development allowed in the county's rural zone, which makes up about 80 percent of the county's land.

The approved annexation requests will increase the size of Ranson by about 1,700 acres.

The commission approved the annexation of 1,062 acres directly west of Ranson. It is bordered on the southern end by the B&O Railroad, which is north of W.Va. 51 west. The property includes the Elmwood, Wysong home, Dolly Varden, Woodlawn Bush and Mount Pleasant properties.

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The second annexation comprises 555 acres and is referred to as the John C. Burns heirs farm. It is northeast of Ranson, extending off Fairfax Boulevard. It also runs near the Briar Run development and around Shenandoah Downs.

The third property comprises 95 acres and is referred to as the Boyd Farm. It is southeast of the John C. Burns property around the area of Flowing Springs Road.

The commission had no authority to reject the annexations as long as they meet state law requirements, the commission said.

Ranson City Manager David Mills said many of the people who have ownership in the properties are either thinking about developing their land or selling it to people who would develop it.

Although much of the land was zoned for commercial and residential development by the Jefferson County Planning Commission, it can sometimes be difficult to develop commercial and residential projects in the county because of protections for rural areas, Mills said.

About 80 percent of the annexed land is in the county's growth area. Ranson is considering a growth pattern for the land that would allow for more dense development and a wide variety of uses including commercial centers, residential areas, home-based businesses and apartments.

The Jefferson County Planning Commission is in the process of making land-use changes as part of the county's comprehensive plan, but it could be more than a year before those changes are made, Commissioner James G. Knode said.

While Commissioner Jane Tabb acknowledged the work the planning commission is doing on a new comprehensive plan that may include a new zoning method for the county, she said "the clock is ticking" and the county needs to address the rate of growth occurring now.

Tabb said she is concerned about the rate of residential growth in the county, especially considering what is occurring in Ranson.

While Commissioner Dean Hockensmith said he usually supports a person's right to develop their property, he "doesn't like all the building" that's occurring.

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