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County panel delays ruling on 225-home subdivision

March 12, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County planners postponed action Tuesday night on a proposed 225-home development along Flowing Springs Road after a number of concerns relating to traffic, ground water and other issues were raised.

Developers want to build the Forest View subdivision in the county's agriculture zone.

To be able to develop the 102-acre subdivision, the developers had to get special permission by undergoing the Land Evaluation Site Assessment test, or LESA.

A list of variables are used to score developments under LESA, including soil types on the land, comprehensive plan compatibility, proximity to schools, public water availability and other factors.

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A numerical score is given in each area.

Had Forest View scored 60 or higher, the development could not have been taken before the Jefferson County Planning Commission for consideration.

The subdivision, which would be near the intersection of Flowing Springs Road and Francis Daniels Road, scored 58.16.

Despite the passing score, concerns persisted about the development during a planning commission meeting Tuesday night.

The developers said Forest View would not have any wells, but local resident Paul Burke pointed out that homeowners would rely on water from Jefferson Utilities, which draws its water from wells.

Burke, an activist who monitors land use issues in the county, said there are many farmers in the area who depend on well water for their farms. In times of drought, the farmers need some kind of assurances that their wells will not go dry, Burke said.

The developers have not agreed to a proposal to set aside a strip of land along Flowing Springs Road that would be available if the road needs to be widened.

The developers, however, are considering giving 10 acres to the Jefferson County Board of Education for an elementary school.

Peter Chakmakian, an attorney representing the developers, said some of the previous proposals suggested for the development were unrealistic, such as reducing the number of homes to 20, or one.

There was a long discussion among planning commission members about a list of conditions they could not consider for the development.

Paul Raco, director of planning and zoning for the county, made the decision about what conditions could not be considered.

The planning commission postponed further action on Forest View after commission member Rosella Kern complained that Raco's process in deciding what conditions could be considered for Forest View seemed arbitrary.

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