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Charles Town boundary vote delayed

May 02, 2006|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. ? The Charles Town City Council voted unanimously Monday night to delay action on a controversial growth boundary and to set up a citizens advisory committee to give input on it after dozens of county residents railed against the plan.

Council members voted to delay action on the boundary expansion until the May 15 council meeting.

The action came after residents said they believed the plan was about greed and was Charles Town's attempt to be bigger than the City of Ranson, which has added more than 3,000 acres in recent years.

At least 75 people appeared at the meeting and the crowd crammed into the City Hall chambers at the corner of George and Washington streets.

People who could not get inside stood outside on the sidewalk.

More than 25 people spoke and only a couple did not speak against it.

The meeting was tense at times, with residents making banging noises and saying "shame, shame" when the citizens advisory committee proposal appeared to be struggling.

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The growth boundary is proposed to reach into farming areas, and speakers emphasized the importance of preserving the county's agricultural industry.

Local farmer Nancy Lutz played a tape of farm animal noises from her farm as she spoke.

"This is the sound you folks will miss," Lutz said.

Lutz said her donkeys would not cooperate with the recording.

"We have enough of those around here," Lutz said.

City officials have proposed expanding the city's growth boundary in an attempt to generate more commercial growth in the city. City officials initially said they would expand their current 7,700 acre growth boundary by another 7,200 acres.

Mayor Peggy Smith revised the numbers Monday night, saying the boundary is currently about 8,440 acres in size and would increase by about 6,382 acres for a total of 14,822 acres.

Smith opened the meeting by saying there had been a lot of misinformation about the boundary plan. Smith said there were allegations that the plan was crafted in a "hush, hush" fashion when in fact more than 20 agencies were informed about the work.

After the speakers finished, Smith said "I've heard a lot of your concerns. We will look at all of it."

A growth boundary is an area which city officials use to consider annexations. City officials have tried to calm the tensions over the new growth boundary, saying the city would not grow unless property owners asked to be annexed.

One speaker said the annexations would surely come because developers would buy up land in the new boundary and then request annexations.

Like comments at other meetings on the plan, county residents objected to being affected by city government.

Kabletown Road resident Laura Keeton said the fight over the new growth boundary reminded her of the Boston Tea Party and she was worried about annexation without representation.

"I did not vote for you. I did not vote for your plan," Keeton said.

Randy Funkhouser told the city to back off the plan and said the issue could end up in court.

"I think it will be ugly," Funkhouser said.

Linda Case expressed concern about a 1,400-acre industrial zone the city wants to put in the new boundary.

"Think about people on the boundary of that," Case said.

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