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Letters to the editor

September 26, 2004
(Page 2 of 4)

Your article of Sept. 1, ("'Sinful" store holds West Virginia up to ridicule, woman says") concerning the adult store that opened next to Bunker Hill, (W.Va.) Elementary School, mentions the store owner stating, "Everyone's always picked on West Virginia."

That may be true to a point since we do rank behind other states on some matters. However, as a lifelong resident, I do resent the recent deluge of entrepreneurs setting up adult businesses in our fine state. As more communities across the country banish them, West Virginia's lack of zoning and enforcement just lures them to our state.

To West Virginians, our motto, "Mountaineers are always free," has always meant freedom is of high importance to us. We also have recognized throughout the many years that morals, good stewardship of our land and consideration of our neighbors and community go hand in hand and are necessary to achieve and protect that freedom. We must realize these people are coming into our state to make money and that is all they care about. To them, our motto and lack of zoning and ordinances means they can do whatever they please.

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Another basis these adult business entrepreneurs claim is First Amendment rights. The First Amendment is for the protection of everyone and the key here is some reasonable balance between the rights of these businesses and the rights of the citizens and communities around them. First Amendment rights do not give one the right to take actions that result in jeopardizing the safety, diminishing the quality of life and decreasing the property values of the surrounding community.

The owner of the adult store also states in the article that she did not realize the elementary school was next door the first time she viewed the property. And she said that even if she had, the location still might not be considered inappropriate since the building previously housed a gun shop. As a West Virginian, I take real offense to this because our Second Amendment rights are very dear to us. The gun shop was there many years back, before the days of Columbine and violent school incidents.

It was locally owned and operated and they abided by the law. I certainly never saw or heard of any reports of the gun-shop clientele waving guns around and shouting obscenities on the front lawn. There have been incidents of the adult store clientele waving unmentionable items from the adult store, shouting obscenities, holding signs too racy for NBC25 to air and old equipment parked around the property draped with tarps for advertising.

When you drive along U.S. 11 and W.Va. 9 in Berkeley County, W.Va., you see some of our nice schools, numerous respectable businesses/industries and residential areas.

However, scattered among these places you will see numerous bars and strip clubs, along with various signs advertising a shower room, stars from naughty videos, etc. Some advertise for dancers, as well. Is this the type of employment and future we want presented and reflected in our area? Is this going to attract reputable businesses and industries we need to provide jobs?

We must start working together, as citizens, along with our county and state officials, to see that proper legislation is introduced and passed, ordinances implemented and proper enforcement is administered to stop this type of business growth in inappropriate locations.

I urge everyone to contact their county and state officials and insist these steps be taken and also to vote for those candidates who will take these steps.

Sandy Hartman
Inwood, W.Va.




Upcoming meeting critical to fort's future


To the editor:

A public meeting concerning the redevelopment of Fort Ritchie will be held Monday evening, Sept. 27 at Ritchie's Lakeside Hall.

At this meeting, Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT), the intending purchaser of all land, buildings and facilities at Fort Ritchie, will present its preliminary development plan to the public.

It is unclear how significantly COPT's plans will differ from the community's existing redevelopment plan, i.e., the "Fort Ritchie Comprehensive Redevelopment Plan." The existing plan was produced at a cost of $400,000 and was developed with substantial input from the general public through a series of public meetings and focus groups.

The basic tenets of the plan include mixed-uses, permanent protection of open space and "low-rise, low-density" development. For the benefit of interested citizens, below are some provisions of the plan pertaining to land use, with text from the plan shown in quotation marks:

· Certain planning principles are observed in the plan, including "the development of a mixed-use and pedestrian-oriented environment, an emphasis on maximum reuse of existing buildings and infrastructure, and an attempt to maintain and enhance the physical integrity of the site by using open spaces to define development sites."

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