Developments would add 1,830 homes, 1 school

February 28, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN - Two developers want to build four new housing developments in Jefferson County under a plan that would add 1,830 homes to the area along with a new elementary school.

Under the proposal, which was presented to the Jefferson County Commission Thursday morning, the two developers planning the subdivisions would put up $8 million to build a new elementary school.

The developers would be reimbursed for the cost of the school through an additional tax on the people who buy the homes, said Peter Chakmakian, who represents developers Herb Jonkers and Gene Capriotti.


There was no mention of how much the special tax might be for people who move into the subdivisions, two of which would be near the intersection of W.Va. 9 and Kabletown Road south of Charles Town.

The third development would be in the Millville area and the fourth subdivision would be along W.Va. 9 west of Charles Town, Jonkers said.

There are several advantages to the project, said supporters, who included Lori Stilley, president of the Jefferson County Board of Education.

Stilley told the commissioners it is important to look for other funding options for new schools because the school district has only two ways to bring in revenue: Getting money from the state School Building Authority and asking voters for a tax increase.

Getting money from the School Building Authority can be difficult because it only has so much money to distribute, Stilley said.

One complaint officials often hear in the community is that residents do not want to pay for new schools for a growing population, especially if their children already have gone through the school system, Chakmakian said.

Under the proposal by Jonkers and Capriotti, only those who move into the four new developments would pay for the new school, Chakmakian said.

Although the idea is in the conceptual stage, Stilley said the Board of Education and the developers wanted the commissioners to be informed about the proposal instead of hearing about it on the street.

"We want to do it up front and in a cooperative spirit," Stilley said.

Stilley said Jonkers went to her with the idea after she began going to planning commission meetings and asking that developers work with the school system to build needed school facilities in the county.

The commissioners, who would have to pass the special tax, had a mixed reaction to the proposal.

Some of the land on which the 1,830 homes would be built would have to be rezoned from an agricultural area to a residential area in order for the building to be allowed. The proposal initially suggested the commissioners change the zoning, although that language later was removed, Jonkers said.

Commission President Jane Tabb said she would be opposed to the commissioners considering any zoning change, saying the request would need to go through the Jefferson County Planning Commission.

Commissioner James Knode said his concern about the proposal was that it "all hinges on something that's not possible today."

Stilley said it was not clear whether state law allows imposition of a special tax for schools, and that question is being researched.

Knode said he does not understand why Jonkers and Capriotti don't increase the price of the homes to pay for the cost of the school.

Commissioner Rusty Morgan said many schools are being built across the country using similar proposals. Morgan said he recently visited his son in California and the schools being built there with such tax revenue are "beautiful facilities. It's a very promising opportunity for us."

"I personally like the idea. It looks like a win-win situation to me," said Commissioner Greg Corliss.

According to the developers, the properties where the homes would be built and the proposals for those properties include:

  • The Blackford Farm, a 325-acre tract where 700 homes would be built.

  • The Sheridan property, a 100-acre property where 180 homes would be built.

  • The Old Standard quarry property, a 411-acre parcel where 350 homes would be built.

  • Highland/Thorn Hill property, a 550-acre tract where 600 homes would be built.

The Sheridan and Highland/Thornhill properties are near the intersection of W.Va. 9 and Kabletown Road. The Old Standard quarry property is in the Millville area and Blackford Farm is along W.Va. 9 near North Jefferson Elementary School.

School officials are working on plans for a second high school on land to be donated by the developers of Huntfield, a 3,300-home development proposed for south of Charles Town off U.S. 340.

School officials say they also need a second elementary school to offset overcrowding conditions in elementary schools.

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