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Planners in Jefferson County weigh town house proposal

December 15, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County planning officials late Tuesday were discussing a 50-unit town house project proposed near Morgan's Grove Park in Shepherdstown, W.Va., which has generated controversy in the past.

Jefferson County Planning Commission members were considering a list of unresolved items relating to the Town Run Commons which is being proposed by developer Gene Henry.

The unresolved items dealt with issues such as buffers for the development and protection for Town Run, a nearby stream that flows through Shepherdstown.

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Henry proposed the town house project in 1995 and opponents complained that the development was not compatible with the area and posed a threat to Town Run.

One of the unresolved issues called for Henry to provide bond insurance or become contractually obligated to ensure that Town Run is cleaned up if damaged.

Linda Gutsell, Henry's attorney, told planning commissioners Tuesday night she did not believe the planning commission could get involved in implementing such a requirement.

Those types of issues would fall under the jurisdiction of the state Department of Natural Resources, Gutsell said.

The DNR has already approved of the plans for the development, Gutsell said.

Another unresolved issue was asking Henry to build a 10-foot fence between his property and an adjacent property owner.

Gutsell said she did not think the fence would be compatible with the area since no other fences of that size are nearby.

Henry does plan to plant deciduous plants to act as a buffer between his property and neighbors, Gutsell said.

Henry also has agreed to limit the height of the town houses to 20 feet, which was another unresolved item, Gutsell said.

Planning commission members started considering Henry's project shortly before 10 p.m. Gutsell was describing the project late Tuesday and about a dozen people who wished to comment on the project had not started to offer their comments.

Planning commission members can now vote on a conditional use permit, which Henry needs to build the town houses.

Most recently, Henry had proposed to sell the land where the town houses would be built to the county to allow for an expansion of Morgan's Grove Park.

The proposal to sell the land to the county was tied to another proposal to transfer ownership of the park from the Shepherdstown Men's Club to the county.

One of the provisions of the proposed park ownership transfer is that if it was approved, the county would purchase Henry's 11 acres from him for $1 million.

The Men's Club recently voted against transferring ownership of Morgan's Grove Park to the county.

Because the park transfer proposal was voted down, Henry decided to pursue the Town Run Commons project again.

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