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Commissioners OK repairs, security for Capital Heights

March 19, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Residents of Capital Heights Townhouses could soon be living in homes with new roofs, new siding and new kitchens.

At a Berkeley County Commission meeting Thursday morning, Commissioners Howard Strauss and Steve Teufel voted 2-0 to move forward with bonds to help with the renovation work.

The work will be done by a man who previously rehabilitated a low-income housing development in Charleston, W.Va., said Leonard Coleman, a lawyer with the Charleston firm of Goodwin & Goodwin.

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Coleman said he expects around $20,000 to be invested in each unit and additional security to be provided.

People who live in HUD housing often will not or cannot afford to do repairs on their homes. Once the property is repaired, however, Coleman said he believes vandalism will go down because people will be proud of the place in which they live.

Capital Heights, which consists of several clusters of townhouses just outside the city limits, is known to police as a high drug and crime area. Two fatal shootings happened there last year.

"It's renovating an area that desperately needs it," Strauss said.

He said he especially liked that no tenants would be displaced and rent would not be increased as part of the project. Additional private security at the complex could lead to reduced county law enforcement expenses, he said.

The multi-family housing revenue bonds, expected to be for around $4.5 million for a 20- to 25-year term, will be paid for with rent revenue, Coleman said.

The bonds will not count against the county's ability to secure up to $10 million a year in bonds. Strauss said that is important, given that bonds will be needed this year to move forward with construction on the county's planned judicial center.

The Capital Heights bonds will be backed by the federal government, with no local taxpayer money involved. All the county commissioners had to do was sanction the idea, Strauss said after the meeting.

A public hearing on the matter was held at the commissioners' meeting, but nobody spoke during it.

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