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Developer makes 507-acre annexation pitch in Ranson

December 08, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

RANSON, W.Va. - The City of Ranson continued on its track for growth Tuesday night after city officials gave preliminary approval to annex into the city 507 acres where a mix of residential, commercial and industrial development is planned, a city official said.

The land, known as the Jefferson Orchards property, also is being touted as a possible location for Ranson City Hall and a MARC train station.

As Ranson grows, it may need a new location for city government that can better accommodate the public. Jefferson Orchards, along W.Va. 9 in Bardane, W.Va., would provide good access to city offices, according to a plan for the development.

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The Ranson City Council unanimously approved the first reading of the annexation during its regular meeting. The second and final reading of the annexation is scheduled for Dec. 21, said City Manager David Mills.

The Dec. 21 meeting will include a public hearing on the annexation.

The property is across from the proposed Tackley Mills and Blackford Farm residential development at the intersection with Wiltshire Road, Mills said.

The Tackley Mills development, also in Ranson, will have 1,370 homes, and officials believe the projects will complement each other, Mills said.

People living in Tackley Mills or in the Jefferson Orchards development can work at businesses in Jefferson Orchards, Mills said. Workers also could commute to nearby metropolitan cities from Jefferson Orchards, Mills said.

Plans for the Jefferson Orchards property says the site would be an ideal location to build a new MARC commuter rail station.

"It all kind of fits," Mills said after Tuesday's council meeting.

The project was brought to the city for possible annexation after county officials declined to support the project, said Robert L. Stout, vice president and senior land planner for Resource International Ltd., which is working for the developers.

Although Jefferson Orchards is outside a growth boundary which Ranson drew for itself, city officials supported the annexation request because of its tax revenue possibilities, among other benefits, Mills said.

David Ralston and Ronald Slonaker are the owners of Jefferson Orchards. Although the land is still in orchards, it is becoming increasingly harder for commercial orchards to remain economically viable, according to plans for the project filed at City Hall.

The plan is to develop the property into primarily commercial, retail, industrial and office space uses. The land also gives Ranson the opportunity to create a large commercial, business and industrial park within its limits, the plan said.

Ranson has more than tripled in size in recent years due to annexations of land, and some county officials have expressed concerns about towns gobbling up all the prime development land in the county and creating confusing situations by having town boundaries extending different ways into the county.

Ranson officials have said the annexations are important to ensure economic vitality.

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