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Jefferson County denies road annexation request

June 25, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - Despite arguments from Harpers Ferry, W.Va., officials that it was needed to help combat drug trafficking on U.S. 340, county officials on Thursday turned down Harpers Ferry's request to annex a roughly one-mile section of the highway.

Harpers Ferry officials had asked the Jefferson County Commission for permission to annex a little more than a mile of U.S. 340 from the east end of the U.S. 340 bridge over the Shenandoah River to the Virginia line.

One reason Harpers Ferry officials said they wanted to annex the highway was to control the amount of illegal drugs being transported into the county.

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It is common for motorists on the highway to transport drugs into the community from cities to the east, Harpers Ferry Police Chief Donald Buracker has said.

The commissioners turned down the annexation request Thursday by a 3-2 vote.

Commissioner Greg Corliss, who joined with Commissioners James G. Knode and Jane Tabb in voting against the annexation, said the biggest problem on U.S. 340 is traffic congestion.

Having Harpers Ferry Police Department officers on the highway patrolling the area would only slow traffic more, Corliss said.

Commission President Al Hooper and Commissioner Rusty Morgan voted for the annexation.

Harpers Ferry Mayor Jim Addy said after the commissioners meeting that the commission's decision was "ill-advised."

The annexation had always been about attacking crime on U.S. 340, but opponents of the proposal made it look like the town was proposing the annexation as part of a grab for more territory, Addy said.

"I'm disappointed," Addy said.

Buracker said after the meeting that he can live with the commissioners' decision, but it is "just a shame" that they could not see the advantage in the plan.

"What Harpers Ferry was trying to do was help the town out," said Buracker, adding that he believes it is important to make the borders of the county secure.

Because the annexation was considered a minor boundary adjustment, the commissioners have control over whether it should be allowed, Morgan said.

With larger annexations - which Ranson, W.Va., and Charles Town have taken on recently - the commissioners have little control over those expansions. If large expansions meet all the legal requirements, the commissioners have little recourse but to approve them, the commissioners have said.

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