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CVS project wins support after developer concession

April 17, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Plans to build a CVS pharmacy in Inwood, W.Va., at the congested intersection of W.Va. 51 and U.S. 11 were approved unanimously Monday night by the Berkeley County Planning Commission, but only after the developer volunteered to restrict one entrance to the store.

Commissioners initially voted 4-4, with Commission President Donald Fox recusing himself because of his friendship with the engineer who presented the proposal for a 13,600-square-foot store on 1.5 acres at the southeast corner of U.S. 11 and W.Va. 51.

"It's not a workable situation," County Commissioner Ronald K. Collins told developer Jim Martin and the engineer with Painter-Lewis PLC of Winchester, Va., he contracted for the project.

Though the plans had met the county's requirements and were recommended for approval by staff, Collins was joined in his vote against the preliminary site plan by Eric Goff, Gary Matthews and Thomas Conlan. Voting yes were Gary Poling, H. Daniel Gantt, John Jeans and Richard Rauch.

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Plannning Director Stefanie Allemong said she had been in contact with the West Virginia Division of Highways about the project and indicated the state had "wrestled" with the store's proposed location, but concluded it was not out of line with what already had been approved there.

"There was no restrictions for the Sheetz across the street," Allemong said.

Hearing no initial concerns from those gathered for the meeting, Matthews, who was left to run the meeting in Fox's absence, led the charge against it as proposed.

"Clearly this is not a proposal that is feasible during a major portion of the day," Matthews said of the existing congested conditions.

Poling did not disagree with Matthews' assessment, but questioned how the Commission could hold the CVS developers' liable and suggested they should be treated fairly.

"At some point, we need to treat the citizens of Berkeley County fairly," Matthews responded and later added the DOH offered "no creativity" in their review.

Though legal counsel Patrick Henry agreed the intersection wasn't "fun" between 4 and 6 p.m., he didn't know how the commission could avoid complying with the county's ordinance.

After the 4-4 vote, Martin stepped forward and told the Commission he felt "a little blindsided" because he met all the requirements and said he thought they did a responsible job.

But after no commissioner appeared willing to change their vote, Martin volunteered to prohibit left-hand turns into or out of the pharmacy from W.Va. 51, which is considered the busier of the two roads. Access from U.S. 11 was not changed and improvements to both roads already were part of the original plans to accommodate the store, officials said.

Martin's proffer, which wasn't required, precipitated an 8-0 vote, but Collins and others still predicted trouble for pharmacy customers who attempt to navigate the U.S. 11 entrance.

"We're not going to be the only problem here," Martin said. After the meeting, Allemong said a Rite Aid pharmacy was expected to locate at another corner of the intersection.

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