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Boydville property saga

December 29, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

On Wednesday, an announcement was made that a Virginia development company agreed to sell Boydville, a historic 13-acre property in downtown Martinsburg, to the Berkeley County Farmland Preservation Board.

The announcement means duplexes and single-family houses will not be built on the land as previously proposed.

Over the last few months, plans to develop Boydville became the source of much contention and controversy.

Here's a look at the events that led up to Wednesday's announcement:

September - The Rector Companies, a Manassas, Va.-based development company, submits plans to build 120 town houses and condominiums on the property, while preserving all the historic structures on the property and about three acres of green space.

Oct. 5 - Members of the city's Planning Commission vote 3-2 to approve the development, which is an exception to the city's zoning ordinance for the area in which Boydville is located. Plan still must be approved by City Council.

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Oct. 27 - State Sen. John Unger, D-Berkeley, meets with members of the Berkeley County Farmland Preservation Board for an unrelated purpose, but during the meeting raises the idea of trying to preserve Boydville. Board members express interest.

Nov. 10 - Before a large crowd, the City Council votes 3-2 against the plan to build town houses and condominiums on Boydville.

Nov. 29 - Farmland Preservation officials, Unger and representatives of The Rector Companies meet to ascertain whether the development company would consider placing a conservation easement on the property. The Rector Companies expresses interest in selling the property for preservation purposes.

Nov. 30 - Unger meets with Martinsburg Mayor George Karos and City Manager Mark Baldwin to discuss Boydville. They indicate the City Council should be approached

Dec. 5 - The Rector Companies submits new plans to build 54 duplexes and eight single-family homes on Boydville, while converting the manor house and historic law office into homes. All of the other structures on the land would be demolished; no green space would be preserved. Unlike the prior proposal, this plan complies with the city's zoning ordinance.

Dec. 6, 4 p.m. - Unger discusses Boydville during a City Council committee meeting. No decision is made.

Dec. 6, 6 p.m. - After an executive session during a Farmland Preservation Board meeting, the Board announces it will set aside $1.5 million to try to buy Boydville.

Dec. 14 - Representatives of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, West Virginia Division of Culture and History and West Virginia Development Office's Main Street program discuss Boydville during a City Council committee meeting. No decisions are made.

Dec. 19 - During an emergency City Council committee meeting, committee members propose granting up to $750,000 to the Farmland Preservation Board to try to help buy Boydville. Supporters in the audience applaud the decision, which still must be approved by the City Council.

Dec. 20 - During an emergency meeting, City Council members approve the $750,000 grant by a 6-0 vote.

Dec. 21 - John Unger meets with LaRue Frye, Boydville owner, to apprise her of the plans. She projects repairing the manor house would cost no more than $50,000.

Dec. 21, evening - Unger and Farmland Preservation Board officials meet with The Rector Companies representatives and make an offer in writing to buy Boydville for $2,225,000.

Dec. 22 - Coleman Rector calls John Unger on his cell phone to accept the offer. Rector asks that no public announcement be made until all of the official paperwork is signed.

Dec. 22, evening - Unger notifies Farmland Preservation Board that the offer was accepted.

Dec. 28 - Funding is transferred to The Rector Companies and the deed is signed. A 3 p.m. press conference is held on the front steps of the 1812 manor house to announce that Boydville has been preserved.

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