Complaints about road point to land-use concerns in Berkeley Co

July 28, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Complaints from residents about a road they say has caused flooding and dust problems in the Pikeview Acres subdivision points to a larger problem in Berkeley County, a county official said last week.

The public likely will have to contend with these issues in coming years because Berkeley County does not have any land-use laws, said Sue Ann Morgan, director of the Berkeley County Planning Commission.

"This could happen anywhere in the county. These are the kinds of issues we will be dealing with as a community," Morgan told the Berkeley County Commission last week.


Last Thursday, several Pikeview Acres residents appeared before the commission saying the owner of a storage and auction business along Interstate 81 has altered Pack Horse Road.

Pack Horse Road, which is not owned by anyone, is a historic road through the county that was cut off in the Pikeview Acres area when I-81 was built.

Although it was cut off to build the interstate, it is used to gain access to L&H Storage, which can be seen along I-81 just south of the Winchester Avenue exit, residents said.

Pikeview Acres residents told commissioners that the owner of L&H Storage has raised the elevation of the road, which causes flooding in the Pikeview Acres subdivision during heavy rains. Residents also complained about dust from the road when heavy equipment travels back and forth to the business.

"It's ruining our quality of life," said Pikeview Acres homeowner James Farrell, who said flooding at his house in June caused about $10,000 in damages.

Pikeview Acres, which consists of about 142 homes, is off U.S. 11 south of Martinsburg.

Farrell told the commissioners he wants Pack Horse Road returned to its original level and for the dust to be controlled.

Berkeley County Engineer Bucky Teach said he is not sure what county officials could do about the situation, especially since the county does not have any grading laws.

Having the Division of Highways take over the road presents challenges because the road is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Teach said.

While private businesses are not prohibited from making alterations to such a road, the Division of Highways would have to go through a lot of regulations to make improvements because of its historical designation, Teach said.

Morgan suggested one way to correct the problems on Pack Horse Road is to require the owner of L&H Storage to go through the county's Land Development Unit process, a commercial site plan review process.

County Commission President Howard Strauss said the owner of the business, C. Lee Ridgely, could be required to go through the Land Development Unit process because at least 3,000 square feet of land has been disturbed where the business is located.

Morgan said she believes Ridgely can be required to make road improvements on Pack Horse Road to control flooding and dust as part of the Land Development Unit process.

Ridgely, contacted by telephone after the meeting, declined to comment.

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