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Residents speak against senior housing project

March 12, 2005|by TRISH RUDDER

trishr@herald-mail.com

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Morgan County residents John Webster and Patti Miller spoke to the Morgan County Commissioners on Friday against the proposed development for senior citizens housing next to the old train depot on North Washington Street.

Commission President Glen Stotler said the commission was asked by Pennsylvania developer Judd Roth to support a Small Cities Community Development block grant for the project. Last month, Roth asked the commission to apply for a $500,000 block grant from the West Virginia Development Office and loan the money to him for the property purchase and site work, Commissioner Tommy Swaim said.

Stotler said "no decision will be made today. By law, there must be a public hearing first before the decision is made regarding the block grant."

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Webster said he is interested in developing a transportation hub at the site that would benefit Berkeley Springs tourism, but there is not enough space for the apartment complex and the transportation hub that Roth is proposing.

Webster said John Williams, president of the WV Eco-tourism Association, told him that he would not support the development of senior housing at the site.

"I don't support senior housing on that property and Williams doesn't recommend it either," Webster said.

Stotler said, "They asked us to support the block grant. We have no jurisdiction over it. Even if we don't recommend building it, he still can get it built."

Webster said he was against using the grant for senior housing. Miller said she has seen "crazy, out-of-control growth" in Morgan County and without a current comprehensive plan, good decisions have to be made regarding economic development.

"The site is a gateway to this historic town. Don't rush to judgment since we don't have a comprehensive plan," she said.

Miller said the transportation hub can "move people through without abusing the landscape." She asked "for more consideration of what is good for the community" before voting to allow Roth to build or backing the block grant.

Webster said, "I am not against senior housing, but a greater community use of that site would be developing a transportation site."

Stotler said there will be no decision made until there is a public hearing.

Swaim said the date for the next public hearing on the block grant proposal has not been set.

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