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Tensions rise again at Charles Town Council meeting

May 15, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Tensions rose between Charles Town City Council member Matt Ward and other council members during an emergency council meeting Monday night to consider a 5.5-acre annexation south of town.

Ward complained that the council was given little information about the annexation and said he believed it was being rushed through the approval process before the city's May 24 election.

Seven candidates are vying for four council seats in races that focus largely on growth.

Mayor Peggy Smith and council member Don Clendening said there was no attempt to rush the annexation and said council members were told about the annexation at a May 7 council meeting.

Smith said city officials realized May 4 that the annexation was not on the agenda for the May 7 council meeting as planned.

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Because there was not enough time to include it on the agenda, there was discussion at the May 7 meeting about having an emergency meeting on the annexation, Smith said.

"I would have done that for any one or any item," Smith said.

Ward complained that he was given information on the annexation "one minute" before Monday's emergency meeting at City Hall at 7 p.m.

Council members did not have enough information about the annexation, "let alone the community," Ward said.

"The process is broke," Ward said after the meeting.

The property is adjacent to a new high school being built along Huyett Road. The land is owned by Spruce Hill L.L.C. and is proposed for commercial use, said Lou Athey, a partner in Spruce Hill L.L.C.

Athey, who was at Monday's meeting, said he has no specific plans for the site.

Athey said he has been talking to city officials about the annexation since November and said there has been no rush by council to approve it.

Ward made a motion to table the first reading of the annexation but the action failed. Council members then approved the first of two readings with Ward voting no.

Annexations by the cities of Ranson and Charles Town have been controversial at times because county officials say the annexations complicate land planning in the county.

City officials say the annexations are important to bring business into their boundaries and boost tax revenue.

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