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Plans OK'd for Coast Guard facility in Martinsburg

December 07, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Martinsburg Planning Commission on Wednesday approved plans for a new U.S. Coast Guard facility at the intersection of U.S. 11 and Edwin Miller Boulevard after addressing issues such as traffic generated by the project, how stormwater would be controlled and documenting any historic ruins.

The planning commission also agreed to change an industrial zone at the site to a planned business park, which would allow for a church and commercial sites to be developed there.

The rezoning proposal will go before Martinsburg City Council for consideration, city officials said.

The Coast Guard facility - which would be the third in Berkeley County - will be 60,000 square feet and is expected to employ 250 people.

U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., announced the site for the facility in September. It will be included in a 33-acre site where Destiny Church is planning a new worship center and commercial development.

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Only one city resident raised concerns about the development known as Destiny Pointe.

Hans Goerl, of 404 W. Burke St., raised several concerns, including how traffic from the project will put additional stress on nearby intersections.

Mike Covell, city engineer/planning director for the City of Martinsburg, said the city's comprehensive plan maps out a strategy for handling traffic in the city in coming years. Also, the site sets aside land for an extension of Raleigh Street, long looked at as a way to relieve traffic congestion in the northern part of the city.

Planning Commission member Steve Hartmann said he wants to make sure the buildings and parking areas do not generate more stormwater that could possibly cause more flooding problems downstream in the area of the Queen Street underpass.

Although the planning commission approved the plans, designs for stormwater control measures still are being reviewed.

Officials at the meeting talked about the ruins of an old courthouse at the site, and Hartmann said he would like to have members of the Berkeley County Historical Society be able to go onto the site to take photographs of possible ruins when trees and soil are being removed.

Project officials said they would work with the historical group on the issue.

The church and commercial sites will feature shared parking areas and there will be sidewalks that people can use to walk to different points in the development if they don't want to drive to them, said Thomas R. Paquelet of Patton, Harris, Rust and Associates, the Williamsport engineering firm working on the project.

"We want more green," said Paquelet, who outlined open space plans.

There are a pair of two-acre commercial sites, but it is too early to say how the sites might be used, Paquelet said.

The Coast Guard facility will be a three-story building and will have 278 parking spaces, Paquelet said.

A $30 million contract has been awarded to JDL Castle of Winston-Salem, N.C., to build the facility and it is expected to be completed by next fall, Byrd has said.

Byrd announced last year that the U.S. Coast Guard planned to centralize its Mariner Licensing and Documentation program with its National Maritime Center, an operation which would be moved to the Eastern Panhandle.

The Mariner Licensing and Documentation program is run through 17 regional examination centers in the country, Byrd said.

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