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Engineer hired to explore sinkhole in Berkeley Co.

March 16, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Berkeley County Commission is set to close on its purchase of a vacant shopping plaza by early June, but commissioners on Thursday hired an engineering firm to investigate a sinkhole in the parking lot of the property before signing off on the $3.15 million purchase price.

The county's building commission is expected to give final approval to a contract to purchase the 5.51-acre property in the 500 block of South Raleigh Street on Monday, County Administrator Deborah Hammond said.

But county leaders said they could still opt out of the contract with Columbia, Md.-based KIMCO Realty Corp. if the issue proves to be a costly sticking point.

Commissioners indicated they would first attempt to negotiate a lower sale price to compensate for addressing the sinkhole, which now is cordoned off and has previously been patched with concrete.

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In a unanimous vote Thursday, the County Commission hired Triad Engineering Inc. of Winchester, Va., to investigate "significant depressions" that have developed in the southwestern portion of the parking lot near the intersection of South Raleigh and South streets, records show.

Awarded a $8,600 contract, Triad is expected to determine the cause and extent of the existing feature and develop recommendations for remediation and/or more exploration, according to Triad's proposal.

Attorney Mike Keller told county leader Thursday that the sale contract for the property, formerly the location of a Martin's grocery store and CVS, could be nixed for any reason during a 60-day, "due diligence" period leading up to the real estate transfer.

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