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Berkeley County officials to vote on putting zoning on ballot

April 15, 2008

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The Berkeley County Commission has not set aside money for potential lawsuits stemming from the possible adoption of zoning, but Commissioner William L. "Bill" Stubblefield said Monday that enforcing the new land-use regulations "should be self-sustaining" and not result in a tax increase.

Stubblefield said a schedule of fees for zoning applications and other land-use permits has been proposed by the county's planning department director as a means to cover costs of employing people to handle zoning matters.

"I'm not sure we have budgeted for lawsuits," Stubblefield said in response to a zoning opponent's question about the proposed program's cost at the second of two public hearings held Monday.

Opponents to zoning who dominated the sessions did not appear to discourage county commissioners from an expected vote this morning on the final drafts of proposed ordinances for zoning and transferable development rights.

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Because of printing deadlines for the upcoming primary election, both land-use questions will appear on ballots, but Stubblefield still held on to the possibility of asking voters to delay consideration until the general election in November in order to allow more time to consider the regulations.

An advocate of the land-use ordinances, Stubblefield fended off comments by zoning opponents Monday who suggested state code wasn't followed in developing the zoning ordinance.

"We've tried very hard to be responsive (to residents' concerns)," said Stubblefield, adding that more than a dozen public meetings and hearings were held on land-use proposals.

Teufel said major changes to the zoning document were addressed six weeks ago and most alterations since were map amendment requests, which affected individual property owners who requested them.

Teufel more than once said Monday that impact fees were never part of the discussions over the two years that the land-use ordinance was being developed.

Early voting begins April 23

All county residents can begin voting in the primary election as early as April 23 in the Berkeley County Voters Registration office at 110 W. King St., from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Excluding Sundays, early voting will continue through 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 10 at the county office in downtown Martinsburg. On May 13, polling locations throughout the county, now posted on the County Commission's Web site, http://www.berkeleycountycomm.org, will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., for traditional election day voting. A final draft of the proposed ordinances also is expected to be posted on the Web site for review and distributed to the county's public libraries.

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