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Irate residents want help with flooding

May 20, 2003|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Irate residents of a subdivision appealed to the Berkeley County Planning Commission Monday to solve flooding on their land and in their homes.

About 25 people from the Sycamore Village development off Van Clevesville Road, east of Martinsburg, packed the meeting room. Some told stories of having no heat or electricity and ruined basements, with damage running into the thousands of dollars. They said they're afraid of what will happen next, with rain on the way.

Robert Hurdle, who lives on Good Drive, said the problem started for him March 6. Now, the water in his basement is almost knee-high - about 18 inches. Three pumps are running to get rid of it.

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"I need help - bad," Hurdle told the planning commission. He said he came directly from the hospital, where he was getting medical care, so he could plead his case at the meeting.

Out on the sidewalk, Hurdle's wife, Carolyn, said the couple has lost $30,000 to $40,000 worth of furniture, carpet, cabinets and other items, as well as irreplaceable family mementos. None of it was covered by insurance, she said.

Shannon Stenack of Webb Court said her house has been flooded four times since March.

Sycamore Village is approved for 207 units, according to copies of a site map that some residents carried.

The project covers 54.7 acres, according to Berkeley County Planning Director Sue Ann Morgan.

Morgan told the commission that a stormwater management plan for the project either was never completed or never followed. She recommended contacting Chester Engineers in Martinsburg to study the area and come up with a solution.

The planning commission approved Morgan's recommendation that John Good, who owns about half of the land in Sycamore Village, pay some or all of the cost of the study.

"It's very clear to me that Mr. Good is responsible," Morgan said.

The planning commission also voted to go into executive session to discuss the possibility of a lawsuit.

Good did not attend the meeting. Contacted at his Winchester, Va., home after the discussion, he said he knows of "only a couple" of ground-water problems in the development.

In some cases, the land likely was not graded properly, Good said. If others are having trouble with water in their basements, it's probably water coming up from the ground, which he can't control, he said.

Morgan, residents and planning commission members contended that a culvert that runs along Van Clevesville Road is clogged, exacerbating the drainage flow problem.

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