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52-unit project might displace Harpers Ferry Flea Market

June 26, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. - Another proposed development near Harpers Ferry National Historical Park is generating concern among park officials and vendors at the Harpers Ferry Flea Market.

A 52-unit residential development is being proposed on about 13 acres where the Harpers Ferry Flea Market operates at the intersection of U.S. 340 and Millville Road.

The development, known as Allstadt's Corner, would consist of 24 two-bedroom apartments and 28 duplexes, according to a proposal filed with the Jefferson County Planning Commission office.

An attorney for developers James and Barbara Gibson said the duplexes and apartments would be popular for home buyers, especially when they compare the homes to the price of single-family homes in the county.

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"This will be a very attractive product, in our view," Charles Town attorney J. Michael Cassell said.

A public hearing on a community impact statement for the development is scheduled for the Jefferson County Planning Commission meeting today at 7 p.m. in the Charles Town Library at 200 E. Washington St.

If the planning commission accepts the community impact statement, the next step would be submission of a preliminary plat for the development, Cassell said.

The property is near 410 acres being proposed for a controversial $250 million office complex.

Developers of that project, which would be built on the so-called Old Standard Quarry site, have touted the benefits of the development because of the 6,000 jobs they estimate it would bring to the county.

Opponents, including officials from Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, say the office complex would be too close to the park.

The Jefferson County Commission is considering whether to change the zoning of the property to allow the office complex.

Cassell said Monday he has seen a letter from the National Park Service in which park service officials object to the Allstadt's Corner development.

National Park Service officials could not be reached for comment Monday.

Cassell reacted to the letter by saying that 13 acres where Allstadt's Corner would be built is zoned for high-density residential development and the project is compatible with the county's subdivision rules.

Although Allstadt's Corner would be built where the Harpers Ferry Flea Market operates, Cassell declined to speculate on what would happen to the market if the Jefferson County Planning Commission approves the project.

The Harpers Ferry Flea Market and a fruit stand that operate at the site have been in existence for about 25 years, said vendors who sell merchandise at the market.

Dave Minnis, a vendor at the market, said the flea market is a "community resource" because it is a popular place where people congregate and purchase items. It also gives vendors a place to earn extra income, Minnis said.

"(It's) very disappointing," said Minnis, reacting to the proposed residential development.

Ron Nowell, the owner of Harpers Ferry Flea Market, declined to comment in detail about the proposed development.

Nowell said he leases the property for the flea market and the owner of the land has been good to work with over the years.

Nowell also stressed that any development of the property could take years.

About 180 spaces are available for rent at the Harpers Ferry Flea Market and the event is so popular that often a five-acre area set aside for parking is full on weekends during the market, Nowell said.

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