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Berkeley County briefs

April 26, 2008|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

Zoning proposal could lead to impact fees



MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Additional development regulations that would come with voters' approval of a zoning ordinance eventually could be followed by the county's collecting impact fees for new construction, county officials said Thursday.

Berkeley County planner Matthew Mullenax told the county commission that the amount of an impact fee could vary depending on the type and market value of the new investment, such as commercial versus residential project and town houses versus single-family home developments.

County legal counsel Norwood Bentley said impact fees would shift the financial burden of growth from existing county property owners to the people who are moving in, which he favored.

If zoning were to pass and the county would develop a capital improvement program, among other requirements, the impact fees could be specifically earmarked for schools and parks and recreation, or public safety projects such as road construction, Mullenax said.

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Commissioner William L. 'Bill" Stubblefield said he would support a modest fee amount, suggesting $7,000 would be fair for a new $350,000 home. County officials estimated they potentially could have collected more than $20 million last year if impact fees had been in place.

Bentley said the impact fees collected are meant to be channeled to address specific needs caused by growth, such as the storm-water project in the Inwood, W.Va., area.

Bentley said he would have to research further to determine whether a more liberal use of the fee revenue could be allowed for growth-related needs in other areas of the county.




County considers selling more buildings



MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Berkeley County Commission President Steven C. Teufel said Thursday that the commission is considering the sale of at least three properties it owns, including a former government office building on West King Street.

Teufel said the sale of the former county office building at 126 W. King St., a two-acre parcel near St. Joseph (Parish) School and a parking lot that adjoins the Berkeley County Board of Education property along South Maple Avenue could help pay for the replacement of the county's office building at 400 W. Stephen St.

The commission considered selling the West King Street property last year with other buildings that were vacated when the county's new judicial center opened in late 2006. But County Circuit Clerk Virginia M. Sine has objected to the relocation of files of court cases now being stored there.

"I'm not moving my files, and they better not touch them," Sine said Thursday. "It costs the taxpayers big bucks to have them in (private) storage. If the county's (financially) broke, how are they going to pay for it?"

Files were damaged the last time they were placed in private storage, Sine said.

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