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Berkeley Co. planners asked to fix problems in Apple Knolls

June 19, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The 246-lot single-family development given preliminary site plan approval in 1996 by the Berkeley County Planning Commission still lacks required street signs and adequate storm water management improvements, a county engineer told commissioners Monday.

"Yeah, they're very legitimate complaints," Assistant County Engineer Steve Aberegg said of concerns aired by residents of Apple Knolls Estates, a subdivision off Dry Run Road, a mile west of Interstate 81.

Aberegg said he is scheduled to meet Friday with a partner of American Homes of Martinsburg, the original developer of the property, to expedite completion and/or correction of problems within the development.

The Planning Commission voted to delay for two weeks sending the current developer a notice to complete the work or risk having existing bonds pulled to have it done. The panel also agreed to have Commissioner H. Daniel Gantt join Aberegg at the meeting with the developer to assess the amount of time needed to fix grading, erosion and other related storm water and signage concerns.

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Speaking on behalf of a group of more than two dozen residents, Brian Williams said he wanted county leaders to rectify "a lot of promises that weren't made."

In a four-page letter urging residents of Apple Knolls Estates to attend Monday's planning commission meeting, problems with inadequate culverts and ditches were noted, along with three unfinished homes, and debris left by the developers. Williams said a number of residents already had signed a complaint about the work not being done.

After leaving the meeting held in County Commission chambers, one resident shared photographs that depicted a significant amount of muddy storm water in several backyards and eroded street berms.

"We gave these to the engineer last August," the resident said.

Aberegg confirmed that he had received a number of complaints last year, but said he had limited authority to do anything other than file them.

Aberegg said he didn't believe he had the authority to put a time limit on when the work had to be done, power that apparently lies with the Planning Commission.

Though largely unaffected by the storm water problems, Jason Bolduc of Braeburn Drive said he would like to see an entrance sign for the subdivision completed, along with installation of other street signs and a park for the children of the community.

Until the wind blew, Bolduc said he didn't realize the siding of his house wasn't installed properly until after he purchased the home and moved from Middletown, Md.

"It sounded like a train was coming through," said Bolduc, who remodels homes for a living.

Other residents said they were concerned about compliance with square-footage requirements for homes yet to be built, primarily because of the potential impact on their property's value.

In addition to Apple Knolls Estates, the Commission also asked an assessment be done for Mills Farm subdivision, which apparently involves the same developer.

Aberegg said outstanding concerns with Mills Farm were less complex than Apple Knolls and estimated the needed work could be completed in a matter of a couple weeks.

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