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Controversial office project on agenda

July 11, 2007|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County Commission members are expected to discuss Thursday taking more time to consider rezoning a former rock quarry near Harpers Ferry that would allow a controversial $250 million office project, although one commissioner said the issue could be decided Thursday.

Commission member Rusty Morgan said Tuesday that support seems to be growing in the county to resolve the issue.

Morgan said the commissioners could vote Thursday whether to rezone the Old Standard Quarry from agricultural use to commercial use, although that might not be the best way to deal with the proposal.

Like commission member Jim Surkamp said earlier, Morgan said it appears the commission's vote on the rezoning is shaping up as a 3-2 vote against rezoning the property.

Five developers, including Herb Jonkers, Gene Capriotti and Lee Snyder, are proposing to build a $250 million office and hotel project at the Old Standard Quarry along Millville Road.

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The developers say the project would be a tremendous boost to the economy and generate about 6,000 new jobs.

Opponents say the project would be too close to Harpers Ferry National Historical Park, among other concerns.

Many people have weighed in on the debate, including Kelley Goes, cabinet secretary of the West Virginia Department of Commerce.

Goes has said having developers provide office space for new business goes a long way toward generating new jobs in a community rather than depending on companies to build such facilities.

"I hate to see this rushed myself," Commission member Dale Manuel said Tuesday.

Manuel said there seemed to be consensus on the commission to delay making a decision on the rezoning.

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