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Jefferson County planner defends adult business zones proposal

February 06, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A Jefferson County planner on Wednesday defended a plan to set aside zones for adult entertainment businesses, saying county officials tried to come up with the most restrictive proposals without ending up with a plan that would spur a court challenge.

Jefferson County Chief Planner Stephen R. Bockmiller responded to comments that Lavarr McBride made to the Jefferson County Board of Education Tuesday night.

McBride, who said he was worried about the spread of adult entertainment businesses in the county, alerted School Board members to a map that shows zones where adult businesses would be allowed to locate.

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McBride was critical of the plan, saying three schools are located near two of the zones.

Although Bockmiller acknowledged that an adult business could be located "next door" to T.A. Lowery Elementary School in Bardane, he said steps have been taken to restrict adult businesses under the new proposal.

Currently, adult entertainment businesses like strip clubs can be located in the county's commercial and industrial zones or the mixed zone that allows commercial and residential development.

Under the new proposal, adult businesses cannot be located in the mixed zone, which represents a large area in the county, Bockmiller said.

One of the proposed zones includes industrial property in Bardane, Bockmiller said. T.A. Lowery Elementary School and Jefferson High School are near that zone, McBride said.

Another proposed zone would be located along Blair Road, which turns off U.S. 340 between Charles Town and Harpers Ferry, Bockmiller said. Although McBride said that zone would be near Shipley Elementary School, Bockmiller said it will be about a half-mile away.

Bockmiller said the proposal, if passed by the Jefferson County Planning Commission, probably would be in effect for only about nine months since the county is developing a new comprehensive growth plan.

Bockmiller declined to speculate on how adult uses might be dealt with in the new county growth laws.

"I'll figure that one out when we get a new comprehensive plan. It's way to early to comment on that," Bockmiller said.

McBride urged School Board members to attend a Feb. 18 meeting where planning commission members are expected to consider the new zones.

At Tuesday's Board of Education meeting, members agreed to send a letter to the planning commission saying they do not want adult businesses located near schools, board President Lori Stilley said.

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