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Far Away Farm decision put on hold

July 27, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Any action on remaining unresolved issues surrounding a controversial plan to build more than 100 houses on 121 acres that some people contend are part of a Civil War battlefield will have to wait until Aug. 9, officials said Tuesday.

Opponents of the development and the developers presented their sides of the issues Tuesday morning during a hearing before the Jefferson County Zoning Board of Appeals at the Old Charles Town Library.

Members of the board decided they would not rule on the issues until Aug. 9 at 9 a.m.

One of the unresolved issues regarding Far Away Farm LLC's plan for the housing development is whether a historical review of the project is required.

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Richard Gay, who is representing the developers, contends a historical review is not required.

The only time a historical review - sometimes referred to as a 106 review - is required is when there is state government involvement in the project, such as state permission for sewage discharge from the development, Gay said.

In this case, the developers have their own sewage system, Gay said.

Linda Gutsell, the attorney representing opponents of the development, said a historical review is required because the developers consulted with the state Department of Highways on the design of a road in the development.

Gutsell said the developers plan to turn responsibility of the road over to the highways department.

The historical review question is one of 67 unresolved issues the Jefferson County Zoning Board of Appeals will have to examine to determine if they are relevant to the case, Gutsell said.

The other issues deal with a broad range of topics such as construction design and adequacy of other local roads, Gutsell said.

"The issue here is the preservation of the battlefield, bottom line," Gutsell said.

Several residents and preservation groups are fighting Far Away Farm LLC's plan to build the development, saying the site was the scene of part of the Battle of Shepherdstown, W.Va.

The developer contends the property does not qualify for the National Register of Historic Places.

According to records on the National Park Service's Web site, the Battle of Shepherdstown took place Sept. 19 and 20, 1862, on acreage to the west side of what is now Trough Road, including Far Away Farm, which is east of Shepherdstown.

After the Battle of Antietam, Gen. Robert E. Lee began to pull his Army of Northern Virginia back across the Potomac River, crossing at Pack Horse Ford.

Union soldiers arrived on the Maryland side of the river the following morning and began to shoot at southern troops across the water.

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