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Arguments in developer's appeal of decision to be heard in April

February 16, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. -- Oral arguments in a developer's circuit court appeal of a Berkeley County Planning Commission decision against controversial home-building plans in northern Berkeley County are expected to be heard April 4.

The petition filed last month on behalf of Trinbar LLC, the developer of the proposed Waterfall Farm Estates subdivision near the community of Bedington, was assigned to 23rd Judicial Circuit Judge David H. Sanders, who presided over a status hearing Thursday.

In a 25-page filing, attorney Richard G. Gay argues the county planning commission essentially failed to follow the county's development rules when it denied the proposed 74.6-acre project, which included 103 single-family lots and 152 multifamily units.

In December 2007, the Planning Commission voted 4-2 to deny a required preliminary approval for the project after hearing an outpouring of opposition from neighboring residents and community leaders.

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Bedington Volunteer Fire Department Chief Scott Schill and Del. John Overington cited health, safety and welfare concerns with emergency access to the development site because of a one-lane railroad underpass and a one-lane bridge.

Norwood Bentley III, the county's legal counsel, advised the planning commission to approve the project after engineer Dennis Black, who is involved in the proposed development, offered to set aside $100,000 for road improvements.

The legal action asks the court to require the planning commission to approve the preliminary plat and award costs and attorneys fees.

Gay on Thursday told Sanders he expected the hearing would include a factual presentation and arguments on points of law to last between two and three hours.

Thursday's status hearing attracted 10 people, including planning commission member Thomas Conlan, former planning commission member Richard Talbott and other residents who have aired concerns about the proposed development and/or other projects.

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