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Preliminary approval given to land request

April 21, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

RANSON, W.VA. - Ranson, W.Va., City Council members Tuesday night gave preliminary approval to a request to annex 375 acres into the city where a group of developers is planning to build a 1,337-unit subdivision and commercial area.

Council members unanimously approved the first reading of the annexation of land where the proposed Tackley Mill and Blackford Farm Neighborhood Development Project would be built.

Council members will consider a second and final reading of the proposed annexation May 4, at which time a public hearing will be held on the proposal, city officials said.

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The property is about five miles north of Ranson at the intersection of W.Va. 9 and Wiltshire Road, which is near the Burr and Bardane industrial parks.

The 1,337 housing units planned for Tackley Mill and Blackford Farm will consist of 485 single-family homes, 460 apartment units, 225 townhouses and 167 patio units, Ranson City Manager David Mills said.

The development, which will be built over a 15-year period, is proposed by Brown Shop Road LLC, a group of developers including Herb Jonkers and Gene Capriotti.

Capriotti and Jonkers were at the council meeting, but they did not comment.

The annexation, if approved, would be added to 2,976 acres annexed to Ranson in recent years. Before the string of annexations started, Ranson consisted of about 550 acres, Mayor David Hamill said.

The proposed 375-acre annexation considered Tuesday night was brought before City Council members two years ago, but they turned it down because the land was outside a growth boundary the city had drawn, Mills said.

The annexation could be considered again if the developers agreed to some requirements, Mills said.

Those requirements included that the residential area be built according to a "smart growth" concept which calls for a neighborhood that is pedestrian-friendly and includes recreation areas, Mills said.

Another requirement is that the commercial area have a "main street" design, as opposed to strip development, Mills said. The main street design uses a layout that is similar to business areas in small towns.

Brown Shop Road developers agreed to follow the two requirements for Tackley Mill and Blackford Farm, Mills said.

The commercial area in the development is expected to include a medical office area and up to 60,000 square feet of office space, Mills said. Other amenities include bicycle paths and a lake with a bridge across it.

Since the developers have started the second annexation attempt, they have submitted detailed drawings to city officials showing what they plan to build, Mills said. The developers also have submitted photographs of buildings to help illustrate what kind of structures they will build, he said.

"It's a different perspective than before," he said.

Because the 375 acres is in the county, the developers have submitted a plan to develop the site with the Jefferson County Planning Commission, Mills said. The developers would not be able to build as many houses if the land remained in the county, so the plan submitted with the county calls for the construction of only 700 homes.

The developers are proceeding on two tracks - one plan involving Ranson and one involving the county - until they decide how they want to proceed, Mills said.

The Jefferson County Planning Commission has scheduled a public hearing for 10 a.m. today to gather public comment on the county plan, Mills said. The hearing will be in the meeting room at the Charles Town Library.

Hamill encouraged council members to talk to their constituents to determine how they feel about the proposal.

"This is not a done deal. This is something up for consideration and we will see where it goes," Hamill said.

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