Residents sound off on stormwater concerns in Berkeley Co.

August 22, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A Berkeley County subdivision developer is under pressure to correct stormwater drainage-related problems that residents say were the product of work done incorrectly.

Planning Commissioners voted Monday evening to revoke in October a bond for Crestfield subdivision phase one and two, unless it is replaced with a new line of credit. The bond is set to expire Nov. 30.

If it is replaced, the commission would give the developer, THZ LLC of Charles Town, W.Va., until March 2007 to make the corrections at the development west of U.S. 11 south of Martinsburg in the Pikeside community.

"Some of the (storm)water was directed away from the stormwater management pond," County Engineer William "Bucky" J. Teach told commissioners.

"There are several different ... problems that are out there."

Those ills were illustrated in photos that a throng of angry residents provided commissioners or at least attempted to describe the conditions in place of images.


In one instance, resident Tim Feltner questioned how water could run "uphill" as apparently designed and questioned how culverts were larger upstream than those downhill from them.

"A blind man can see what's messed up in this subdivision," Feltner said.

"I think this developer ... needs to correct his problems before he can do one thing else."

Residents complained that drainage ditches were not functioning, backyards were filled with water and portions of the road was coming apart, among other concerns.

On Nov. 10, 2005, the Planning Department's executive administrative secretary sent a demand letter to the developer, stating that the bonds were being called upon for failure of the developer to comply with the provisions of the county's subdivision regulations.

And Monday night, the developer's "history" was mentioned in a negative light on more than one occasion by officials holding the meeting.

The bond amount in question amounts to about $96,000, but officials wondered if that would be enough to make the corrections.

The Commission's legal counsel indicated he did not believe the panel had the authority to increase the bond. But it did appear that commissioners could indirectly put a halt to a reported phase three of the development.

The continued recurrence of stormwater management problems frustrated Commissioner Richard Talbott, who was the lone dissenter on several items on the agenda.

"I've been here since November and I don't think we've planned anything," Talbott said. "Rome is burning, while we're playing the fiddle here."

Commission chair Donald Fox disagreed noting work has been under way in anticipation of possibly having a zoning ordinance in place.

Talbott still wasn't satisfied.

"I just don't see action happening fast enough."

The Herald-Mail Articles