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W.Va. subdivision foes turn tuneful at rally

June 04, 2006|by TRISH RUDDER

UNGER, W.VA.

Chanting and singing was part of a rally that close to 200 people attended on Saturday in this small rural community near Berkeley Springs.

"What do we want - a moratorium. When do we want it - now" was chanted, and "Outhouses of Unger, Aaaah Ewww" was sung to the tune of "Werewolves of London" in protest of the Huntington Farms subdivision that is being built here.

The local group of residents, called Outhouses of Unger, held the public rally and press conference in front of the giant fiberglass statue collection at the home of George and Pam Farnham, which is across from the subdivision site.

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The Farnhams' unusual yard art of five fiberglass statutes includes a 26-foot Brian Wilson Beach Boy and a 23-foot Midas Muffler Man, George Farnham said.

Farnham heads up the Morgan County group protesting the new high-density subdivision. The group was formed about five weeks ago, he said.

Farnham said 56 homes on about 1.5-acre lots are to be constructed on the 94-acre site. He said the group is challenging the septic permits approved for the subdivision by the Morgan County Health Department.

Symbolic of the proposed subdivision, 56 outhouses were built, colorfully painted, lettered with "Keep Morgan County Rural" and set out along Winchester Grade Road (W.Va. 13).

Farnham said at least 75 outhouses have been built and are out along other Morgan County roads now.

A petition to the Morgan County Commission requesting a moratorium on future subdivisions until rules and regulations are in place to control county growth was being circulated for signatures and will be presented to the commission, Farnham said.

"We need to put a moratorium on high-density development in Morgan County until we can have a comprehensive plan in place," Farnham said. "We don't want to curb growth - just high-density development."

"I hope the people that have the power to do the right thing will do it, said Jill Klein Rone, who led the crowd in chanting and singing. "They are our representatives, and they need to listen to what people want."

Gary Lee Nelson, Democratic candidate for the 51st District House of Delegates seat in the West Virginia Legislature, also was at the rally.

"This is a local issue, and it needs to be resolved by county officials," Nelson said. "Until the county accepts zoning completely, they will not get these issues resolved."

Brenda J. Hutchinson, Democratic candidate for the Morgan County Commission, said, "I think all officials should be here, whether you agree (with the protest) or not." She said officials should represent "all of our constituents." Hutchinson is running for the seat held by Bob Ford, who did not seek re-election.

Berkeley County residents David Klinger and Jennifer Caskey spoke to the crowd. They represent Concerned Citizens of Whitings Neck, a subdivision there, and they came to the event to give support to Farnham and his group, Klinger said.

"We want to build bridges with other Eastern Panhandle citizens who are working with these issues," Caskey said.

Klinger said high-density subdivisions are "coming in everywhere in Berkeley County."

A music video of the protest rally was recorded by local resident Brice Williams and will be placed on the Outhouses of Unger Web site, he said.

"Things can happen when people become activists," said Colin Williams, who grew up in Unger.




For more information on Outhouses of Unger, go to www.outhousesofunger.com.

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