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Coolfont owners buy adjacent 168-acre farm

September 06, 2007|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Coolfont's planned new community has grown to nearly 1,000 acres with the recent acquisition of the 168-acre Benedikt family farm, the Carl M. Freeman Cos. announced recently.

The farm is close to the former Coolfont Resort and was purchased last Friday by Freeman from Gary Laue and his family. Freeman purchased Coolfont in late 2005.

Kim Damion, marketing manager for the Freeman Cos., said as many as 1,200 homes will be built, and the majority are vacation or second homes, she said.

"Only a small percentage are priority homes," Damion said.

About 40 percent of the 994 acres will be developed into homes and amenities, which include a spa, kayak club, nature center, and indoor and outdoor pools, said Robert Marggraf, vice president and general manager of West Virginia communities for Freeman.

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Two lakes will be expanded and there will be hiking trails throughout the project, he said.

"It will not be a gated community," Marggraf said, and the amenities will be available to the public, he said.

Marggraf said the plan is for eight to 12 homes to be built on small lots with a lot of green space in between. These are called "cluster" developments.

Alma Gorse, Morgan County planner, said Freeman made its preliminary presentation to the planning commission Aug. 28.

Eight of the 11 board members were present, she said.

"We've had two or three sketch-plat meetings with Freeman to discuss cluster development-type of projects, and we are going through the process like any other developer," Gorse said.

Damion said she expects the permitting and planning process to be complete in 2008.

"Low impact development is what Freeman Companies strive for preserving and protecting the environment," Marggraf said.

He said the project could take up to 10 years to develop.

In September 2006, Marggraf said community members were invited to meet with Freeman representatives, land planners and architects to discuss what types of elements and features they would like to see in the project.

He said people wanted a lot of green space, low impact to the county and did not want a gated community.

Town of Bath Mayor Susan J. Webster said she participated in the meeting, called a charrette, and she felt the Coolfont community project is a positive thing.

"The Freeman Companies are well known and experienced in this type of building area. Morgan County is fortunate to have a developer like Freeman," she said.

Gorse said cluster development will be discussed by staff and Arro Consulting at the next planning commission meeting Sept. 25.

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