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52-unit development gets favorable response

June 27, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - A 52-unit residential development that would wipe out the 25-year-old Harpers Ferry Flea Market and a fruit stand received a favorable response Tuesday night from Jefferson County land planners.

The Jefferson County Planning Commission approved a community impact statement for the Allstadt's Corner project despite opposition from flea market supporters who said the market is a viable economic operation and a unique part of the county's fabric.

The planning commission accepted the community impact statement on a 5-2 vote.

The 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 services surveying and engineering studies.

The next step will be submission of a preliminary plat.

Vendors can operate in 180 spaces 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 the weekends, market owner Ron Nowell said Sunday.

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A wide cross-section of vendors set up shop at the market, including older people trying to supplement fixed incomes or wives working to add to their husband's pay, market supporter Barbara Humes told the planning commission Tuesday night.

Vendors sell a variety of items, including sporting goods, antiques, jewelry, incense and aroma therapy products.

"We're talking about people's lives and livelihoods," Humes said.

Opponents of the Allstadt's Corner project said they were concerned about how the development would further complicate already crowded traffic patterns on U.S. 340, and Harpers Ferry Flea Market vendor Dave Minnis said the highway often is backed up with commuters "fighting to return home" to Jefferson County.

The Allstadt's Corner project, which would consist of 24 two-bedroom apartments and 28 duplexes, would be "another step in that long road," Minnis said.

Planning Commission member Todd Baldau said he could not support the community impact statement because he was concerned about safety issues, such as young children from the development being too close to U.S. 340.

Project officials said Allstadt's Corner will not have as many housing units as could have been allowed under county rules.

Voting to accept the community impact statement were Tom Kane, Ed Dunleavy, Bob Reynolds, John Sidor and Arnie Dailey. Baldau and Jim Surkamp voted no.

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