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Berm to divide mansion from development

March 29, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A berm made of contaminated soil from an old orchard and standing 23 feet high will be used to separate the 3,200-home Huntfield development from the historic Claymont mansion, officials said at a Charles Town Planning Commission meeting Monday night.

A Huntfield official said using the contaminated soil to build the berm does not pose any public health risk and said the berm will be constructed in accordance with state regulations.

Details of the berm were worked out as part of a master plan for Huntfield, a mixed use development being constructed about a mile south of Charles Town along U.S. 340.

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In January, the planning commission approved a master plan for Huntfield, but told Huntfield developers to come back to them with a detailed plan for a buffer between the development and Claymont mansion.

There has been a concern about the highest amount of traffic in Huntfield being concentrated in an area that is next to Claymont, one of seven homes built by George Washington's family.

The mansion is the site of an education facility where conferences dealing with issues such as peace activism have been held over the years.

The berm separating Huntfield from Claymont will be constructed of contaminated soil from an orchard that used to be on the Huntfield property, said Linda R. Erbs, vice president of planning and zoning for Greenvest, L.C., the Vienna, Va.-based firm developing Huntfield.

Erbs said the berm would be 150-feet wide and would have a "rolling hill type of facade."

The primary contaminant in the soil is arsenic, said Erbs.

Erbs said the contaminated soil does not pose a public health threat, and said the only way it could be dangerous to people is if it is ingested "in great amounts."

If there are dry periods while the berm is being constructed, the contaminated soil will have to be soaked with water to settle any dust, Erbs said.

If heavy rains occur while it is being built, silt fences and other measures will be used to control runoff, Erbs said.

Planning commission members and a Claymont official complimented Huntfield officials for their work on the berm.

Kit McGinnis, director of retreats for the Claymont Society for Continuous Education, said she is not satisfied with every issue regarding Huntfield. But with regard to the berm, McGinnis said she believes Huntfield developers "approached it in good faith."

Huntfield officials and Claymont worked together on the issue over how the housing development would be separated from Claymont. McGinnis said she wished other issues could have been discussed in the work sessions, such as the high-density development in Huntfield that will be near Claymont.

But the discussions were limited to how Huntfield and Claymont would be separated, McGinnis said.

Erbs said the developers have agreed to move part of a commercial area away from Claymont and build it on a section of property farther to the east.

McGinnis said the commercial section that is being moved is only a "tiny" section.

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