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Planning appointees concern officials

January 17, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A builder and a man with a residential construction permit were appointed Thursday to Berkeley County's planning commission, a move that Berkeley County Commission President Howard Strauss equated with a fox running a hen house.

William Lee Samsell, who works for a Jefferson County environmental firm and is a licensed builder, and Gary Poling, who has a subdivision within the city of Martinsburg and is vice president of the Eastern Panhandle Home Builder's Association, were elected to serve on the planning commission by a 2-1 vote.

Commissioners Steven Teufel and John Wright voted to appoint them, while Strauss voted against it.

A third man, part-time farmer and cement company employee Jim Stuckey, was named to serve on the planning commission by a unanimous vote.

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Although Strauss argued that five of the planning commission's 12 members are now, in one form or another, affiliated with development, Teufel disputed the claim.

Even the developers, Teufel said, will do what's best for the county.

"I don't consider that a conflict of interest. I don't consider that a fox in the hen house," he said. "I'm just trying to get people to be involved."

Teufel nominated the three to serve.

Strauss said he has nothing personal against the men, and added that they would be excellent candidates for boards or commissions other than planning.

"They have a lot at stake," he said of those with a vested interest in development who sit on the planning commission. "The more regulations and controls that we have has a direct effect on their business.

"I think the public suffers," Strauss said.

Planning commission members, who are to be selected without regard to political party affiliation, serve three-year terms.

State code allows for up to 15 people to sit on the planning commission, meaning three more members could be added.

Teufel said, if anything, he would like to see another woman or two sit on the board. Currently, two women, Linda Barnhart and Lavonne Paden, are members, he said.

Strauss said he was not sure whether three more members could make a difference.

Strauss formerly sat on the planning commission, however Teufel said he wished to serve.

Teufel, who was elected to the county commission in November, took over the planning commission seat last month.

He said he is worried about growth, but wonders what can be done.

"What can we do to make everybody happy?" he said.

Shutting down the county's borders to outsiders is impossible, he said.

"We're in a unique area. (Growth) is going to keep coming," he said.

Other, stagnant areas of the state are envious, he said.

"We're very fortunate to have what we have," Teufel said.

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