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Corliss, Lance seek open Jefferson commission seat

October 28, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Growth issues such as dwindling school classroom space and concern over how Jefferson County's roads and other public services will serve new subdivisions in the county have received increased attention in recent years.

Now the issues are taking center stage in the races for two Jefferson County Commission seats.

Republican Greg Corliss and Democrat Greg Lance are running for the Harpers Ferry, W.Va., seat in the Nov. 5 election and Democrat G. Warren Mickey and Republican Rusty Morgan will square off for the Kabletown, W.Va., seat.

Both races are countywide. The commissioner job pays $27,500 a year.

Corliss said he is concerned about the future of the county because it is basically on "autopilot" with no plans to deal with the population increase that is expected in coming years.

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Corliss said the county needs to conduct population projections for growth areas and determine what services will be needed to serve those areas.

The county needs to develop needs plans for 10, 20 and 30 years into the future, something not done now, Corliss said.

"We're always playing catch-up," said Corliss, of Route 1, Box 91, Shenandoah Junction, W.Va.

Corliss, who has been concerned about other growth-related issues such as water wells going dry and the need to monitor the situation, said many people do not want to hear about growth problems that could be facing the county.

Many people do not want to hear about traffic congestion that could occur if another approach to growth management is not taken, Corliss said.

"The public needs to understand it. We've had real blinders on," said Corliss, a retired U.S. Marine pilot who now operates a 50-acre beef farm near Charles Town.

Corliss has been criticized for favoring no growth, but he said that is not true.

There are about 40,000 building lots that have been approved in the county and no one can go back and reverse that, Corliss said.

Lance said Corliss' ideas for the county, such as limiting development to one house per 10 acres, will drive up housing costs and make it impossible for young people to live here.

"He talks about growth but he has no plan," said Lance, a territory manager for Wyeth-Ayerst, a pharmaceutical company.

Corliss said he has never supported one house per 10 acres. He said he has only stated that the county needs to look at the different types of zoning that will be set up in the county and develop plans based on them.

Striving to seek a balance between preserving green space and meeting needs like affordable housing, Lance said he wants to increase minimum lot sizes to about a half-acre in designated residential growth areas and to about one or two acres in rural areas.

Lance said he thinks developers should be required to set aside 30 percent of a development for green space.

Lance said he thinks the county should be monitoring its groundwater supply and instead of relying on new wells for water, the county should require developers to build where public water and sewer is already available.

Those areas are largely around the municipalities, which is a logical place for growth, said Lance, a former county commissioner who served for 12 years before being defeated in 1998.

Lance said impact fees, which are fees collected from developers to offset the cost of additional services needed because of growth, should have been implemented a year ago.

The county needs to lobby the state for more revenues for new school construction, and an estimated $6 million that the current commission has in the bank should have been used by now to give the county needed police and fire protection and build an indoor recreation center similar to the one in Berkeley County, Lance said.

"I do have a plan to deal with the concerns. We need to have political change," said Lance, of 1235 Washington St., Harpers Ferry.

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