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Far Away Farm permit denied

August 10, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

A controversy that has been brewing since last year regarding a developer's plans to build more than 100 homes on 112 acres near Shepherdstown, W.Va., hit a pivotal point Tuesday when a zoning board turned down a permit for the project.

An attorney representing the developer said it is "highly probable" the decision will be appealed to Jefferson County Circuit Court.

One of the reasons the Jefferson County Zoning Board of Appeals turned down a conditional-use permit for Far Away Farm LLC's housing development was because it was not compatible with the area where it was going to be built.

Several residents and preservation groups have been fighting the project, saying the site is where part of the Battle of Shepherdstown was fought.

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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, the Web site says.

Union soldiers arrived on the Maryland side of the river the following morning and began to shoot at Confederate troops across the water, the Web site says.

One of the issues surrounding the development was the amount of traffic it would generate on Trough Road.

The road is less than 16 feet wide in some places and farmers often haul their equipment on it, said Ed Dunleavy, an opponent of the project.

An additional 300 cars would be traveling on the road if the housing project is built, said Dunleavy.

Dunleavy said Trough Road is "so dangerous, it's just unbelievable."

Attorney Richard Gay, who is representing the developers, said a traffic study was completed on a handful of intersections on Trough Road as part of the application process for the development. The study revealed there were no problems relating to state or federal highway requirements, he said.

"They just ignored that," Gay said.

Gay said the zoning board of appeals will issue its decision in writing. The developers will then have 30 days to file an appeal, he said.

The development would be in the county's rural zone, although developers can build in the zone if they meet certain requirements. One such requirement is if their projects score 55 or less on the county's Land Evaluation Site Assessment test, which scores projects based on soil types, water, sewer, historic nature and other factors.

Last year, Far Away Farms' project received a score of 46.2. The score later was revised to 50.2, which still is within the allowable range.

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