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Sparks likely as council takes on boundary plan

May 01, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The debate over a proposal to nearly double Charles Town's growth boundary shows no signs of letting up as city officials are preparing for what could be a heated Charles Town City Council meeting tonight regarding the issue.

The growth boundary is expected to be discussed at the council meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. Council member Randy Breeden said he has heard that about 13 people have signed up to speak.

In an attempt to generate more commercial growth for Charles Town, the city is proposing to expand its current 7,700-acre growth boundary by another 7,200 acres, a growth district that would stretch east, west and south of the city.

A group of opponents has strongly criticized the plan, saying it makes no sense because it threatens to bring residential growth into a farming area along Earle Road where there are also many historic properties.

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Last Thursday, Jefferson County Commission members also said they were worried about the new boundary, which is being considered as part of a new comprehensive plan, and the commission decided to ask city officials to delay any action on the plan for 30 days.

The issue is on the city council's agenda tonight even though the city's planning commission still has another scheduled public hearing on the comprehensive plan May 9.

When asked why the issue is on tonight's agenda, Breeden said Sunday that there is no law that says the comprehensive plan and the growth boundary cannot be voted on separately.

"It's up to the municipality to decide when and how," Breeden said.

Breeden said a lot of false information has been spread about the growth boundary.

Someone has been attaching notices to mailboxes in the county, saying all the land in the proposed growth boundary will be annexed and that sewer rates will go up, Breeden said.

Breeden said that is "totally false" and city officials have been working to clear issues up for county residents.

Breeden expressed frustration over the string of events and said the situation "makes me even more committed to voting for the growth boundary."

Like council member Donald Clendening, Breeden emphasized that the land within the boundary enlargement cannot be brought into the city unless property owners request to be annexed.

Breeden said he thinks the vote will be close if council members act on the boundary plan tonight.

Clendening said Sunday he does not know how the city council will react to the commission's request for a 30-day delay. He said he thinks it will come to a vote tonight.

Clendening said the plan's proposal for a western highway bypass in the Earle Road area - which also has drawn criticism - has been deleted from the proposal and he plans to support the boundary expansion.

Council member Matt Ward said he wants to have the boundary proposal tabled for up to 90 days to allow a citizens advisory council to iron out concerns raised by county residents.

Ward said a comprehensive plan usually is formed through consensus, but the current proposal is "universally disliked" and people who are opposing the plan are talking about having lawyers represent their interests.

The city should not push forward with the new boundary with those types of issues existing, Ward said.

"There are all kinds of reasons we should not rush this," Ward said.




Council meeting



What: The Charles Town City Council is expected to discuss expanding its growth boundary.

When: Tonight, 7

Where: City Hall, 101 E. Washington St., Charles Town

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