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Developer says price likely too steep for land

January 30, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - The president of a Maryland development firm that has proposed building 69 homes at a historic site adjacent to Morgan's Grove Park said his firm is willing to consider purchase offers from any groups interested in preserving the site.

But Larry Rosenberg played down that possibility Sunday, mostly because of what his firm would ask for the property.

"I think it's going to be far more expensive than what they envision," said Rosenberg, who declined to give a price for the land.

Rosenberg's firm, The Mark Building Co. of Owings Mills, Md., has proposed an upscale development on 39 acres, which is referred to as Derr's Field or the Tollhouse Woods property.

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J. Davitt McAteer, head of the Morgan's Grove Historic Preservation Association, LLC, wants to see the site preserved because of its historical significance.

The property was the site of a tollhouse for the former Kearneysville Pike. The toll road ran from Shepherdstown to Middleway, W.Va.

The Derr's Field area is also where men gathered for the Beeline March in 1775. The march culminated after Gen. George Washington issued a call for Virginia Volunteer Riflemen in a movement that resulted in the famous "Beeline March" to Cambridge, Mass., McAteer told the Shepherdstown Men's Club.

Capt. Hugh Stephenson built the ranks of his company in Shepherdstown and it is has been referred to as the first unit of the U.S. Army.

McAteer said he would like to see local civic organizations get involved in efforts to line up funds for a possible purchase of the land and make the site an area that can be used for educational, scientific and recreational activities.

Rosenberg said his firm still wants to proceed with its proposal. The plans for the housing development, known as Tollhouse Woods, have been filed with the Jefferson County Planning Commission.

Although houses are planned for the site, Rosenberg said the historical areas on the property will be preserved and the public will be allowed to enjoy the open areas.

An open area will surround the site of the tollhouse, said Rosenberg. The area will be landscaped and a plaque designating the historic spot will be placed there, Rosenberg said.

At the site of the Beeline March, the current dirt path will be replaced by a cobblestone trail, Rosenberg said.

The houses will be constructed on 18 acres and the remaining 21 acres will be open and take in the tollhouse and Beeline March areas, Rosenberg said.

Walking trails will wind through the open areas and connect to Morgan's Grove Park, Rosenberg said.

"We take a lot of pride in what we do and we want to make sure we don't have a negative impact," Rosenberg said.

Rosenberg said four ponds will be constructed on the property which will collect sediment from storm runoff and prevent it from entering Town Run, a small stream which runs through the property and into Shepherdstown.

The homes in Tollhouse Woods will start at $400,000 and will have two-car garages and four to five bedrooms, Rosenberg said.

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