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County zoning board limits units at W.Va. subdivision

September 04, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - A Jefferson County zoning board has scaled back the number of homes to be allowed in a controversial housing subdivision that a local attorney claimed was to be built where there were high levels of DDT, arsenic and diesel fuel.

The Paynes Ford Station subdivision was slated to have 201 houses, but the Jefferson County Board of Zoning of Appeals ruled on Aug. 10 that the subdivision will be limited to 37 homes, said Shepherdstown attorney Andy Arnold, who represented adjacent property owners.

The board of zoning appeals decided to limit the number of homes at the site to make it compatible with the neighborhood, which consists of homes on large lots, Arnold said.

Also, soil at the site will have to be remediated and some water wells in the area will have to be tested by the developer, Arnold said.

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Paynes Ford Station, which will be off Paynes Ford Road, will have homes in Berkeley and Jefferson counties. The original proposal called for a total of 218 homes in the two counties.

The development is proposed to be built in an old orchard and residents expressed fears about what would happen once dirt is disturbed at the site.

During a 2003 public meeting about the development at Grace Reformed United Church of Christ in Kearneysville, W.Va., a man living next to the site said fish turn up dead in a pond on his property every time heavy rain fell. The neighbor said he thought the fish kills were due to runoff that enters his pond.

The part of Paynes Ford Station that would be in Jefferson County is in the county's rural agricultural zone, meaning developer Dave Ralston needed a conditional-use permit from the county to build the Jefferson County section.

The proposed subdivision went through a long appeals process before the board of zoning appeals, Jefferson County Circuit Court and the West Virginia Supreme Court.

Ralston said last Wednesday that he did not have detailed information about the board of zoning appeals decision and that he was awaiting a written decision from the board, which is to be available Sept. 21.

Ralston said he heard the board had limited the Jefferson County section of the development to 37 lots.

Ralston said remediation of the soil has started. Remediation is usually done as a property is being developed, and involves taking contaminated soil and placing it under road beds, Ralston said.

Soil in the Berkeley County section also will be remediated, Ralston said.

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