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Shepherdstown town house project OK'd with conditions

April 26, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A development near Shepherdstown, W.Va., that is being geared to the local artisan community and is generating controversy because of its proximity to Morgan's Grove Park was given preliminary approval Tuesday night by county planning officials.

The Jefferson County Planning Commission approved a community impact statement for the proposed Town Run Commons, but did attach several conditions for approval, said Sherry Kelly, Jefferson County's acting chief planner and zoning administrator.

One condition was that a supplemental traffic analysis be conducted to examine traffic issues around the site of the planned 32-lot town house development along W.Va. 480, Kelly said.

Planning Commission member Jim Surkamp said during a planning commission meeting Tuesday night that he was concerned about traffic associated with Town Run Commons and the fact that only one entrance will be used for it. Project spokesman Mark Dyck said two entrances have been considered.

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Two other conditions placed on the development are that 12 of the living units shall be affordable housing - also referred to as "work force housing" - and that the state Division of Highways will be asked to consider reducing the speed limit on W.Va. 480 in front of the site, Kelly said.

The planning commission's vote on a subdivision's community impact statement is designed to give the builder the commission's "informal disposition" toward the developer's project. The community impact statement is reviewed in the early phase of a development before the builder has put a lot of money into surveying services and engineering studies.

The next steps for Town Run Commons are preliminary plat and final plat consideration.

Any conditions attached to a community impact statement approval are typically viewed as issues a developer should pay attention to, said Jefferson County Commissioner Greg Corliss, who has sat on the planning commission.

Not adhering to the conditions can be grounds for rejection of a final plat approval for a development, Corliss said.

Peter Corum, who owns the land where Town Run Commons would be built, said the development will cater to local artisans and will feature attractions like a homegrown food store, a butcher shop and a small gallery and store that sells artwork.

Corum downplayed criticism of the project, saying some leading arts people in Shepherdstown like his project.

"We're trying to build a community, not a subdivision," Corum said.

The development is near Morgan's Grove Park and opponent Joel Garner said Town Run Commons is not appropriate for the rural area in and around the park.

Garner is president of the Shepherdstown Men's Club, which owns the park.

Garner said Wednesday his organization will continue to monitor the project. Garner said he wants the developers to eliminate the commercial part of the development and reduce the number of living units.

Corum said those are areas he will not change.

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