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Church annexation request weighed at hearing

November 08, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A proposal by a church and a local bank to annex 124 acres of land into Charles Town where homes, an assisted living center and other projects might be developed drew criticism from people Monday night who say the city is ill-equipped to handle the development.

Officials with Oakland United Methodist Church have said they are considering building an assisted living center for older people, a child-care center, a medical center and a community center on the property across from the Crosswinds subdivision along W.Va. 9 east of Charles Town.

Church officials said they decided to pursue the projects after considering the needs in the community. Church officials are considering building homes on between 40 acres and 60 acres to generate money to pay for the facilities.

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But the proposal generated opposition during a Charles Town City Council meeting Monday night.

Ellen May, who lives on John Rissler Road, said there has been a large number of car wrecks on the section of W.Va. 9 that runs past the property and putting more cars on the road will aggravate the situation.

"I'm concerned about the over-burdening of our community," May said during a public hearing on the annexation.

Ann Paonessa, who lives on South Mildred Street, said the annexation "doesn't pass the common-sense test" because the city does not have any plans to deal with more annexations.

Council member Matt Ward also spoke against the annexation, saying the city has no plans for new roads to handle population growth and said there is no plan to attract commercial development to pay for "this massive unplanned growth. We are not ready for this or other annexations," Ward said.

Council member Bill Jordan said he is waiting for commercial growth in town, but all he sees is "residential, residential, residential."

In an e-mail sent to The Herald-Mail, Ward said the city cannot continue approving subdivisions without adequate public services and without any information on the costs versus benefits of new houses.

The city has already approved more than 5,500 new houses, and now it is considering another housing project "without any plan, without any information, and without any sense of the potential costs and benefits to the citizens living in Charles Town," Ward said in his e-mail.

JoAnne Alexander, a pastor with Oakland United Methodist Church, told council members that although the property is now in the county's rural zone, it is also within a growth boundary established by the city.

On the need for commercial development, Alexander emphasized that the church is planning business development on the property such as a dialysis center.

Council members did not take action on the annexation request.

The church wants to annex the land into the city because it will be easier to develop the facilities under the city's land-use regulations rather than the county's laws, Alexander has said.

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